In the dark streets

In December 2012, the usual holiday preparations were in full swing when the darkness settled, heavy and oppressive. The flu bug arrived in our community and would not leave. Most families were visited by sickness and were forced to adjust schedules and activities; even church services were postponed or canceled. In my family and circle of friends, a series of events left us weary and saddened. Two cars broke down during travel in a snowstorm. Yes, there was snow—so heavy that travel plans had to be changed. A necessary appliance quit working, and a big repair bill dampened spirits. A friend’s mother died. Other friends were in a serious accident. I spent that Christmas Eve in the waiting room while my dad had emergency surgery. And hanging over all of the world was the horrifying evil of a man shooting children at Sandy Hook School.

Every December since then, I have thought about that 2012 Christmas, a month of darkness, disappointment, evil, and death. That year, when Christmas decorations, gifts, and traditions were mostly forgotten, I began to see what really happened in the dark streets of Bethlehem: God in His kindness sent a light of hope into our dark streets. A Man was born to bring a light into the dark place in which we live.

We sing “Joy to the World” every year. There’s one line that now means so much to me, it often brings tears of gratitude and joy: He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Today, reflect on what Jesus has brought to your own dark streets. He came to make all God’s blessings flow into our own cursed darkness.

Joy to the world!

Then God said, “Let there be light.”
Genesis 1:3

His life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:4-5

[Jesus said], “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness,
because you will have the light that leads to life.”
John 8:12


What are you celebrating?

One of my grandsons celebrated his birthday this month. I was out of the state that day and missed the cake and ice cream celebration. But on his birthday morning, I sent him a text that said, “I’m glad you were born!”

Birthdays are a celebration of who a person is, of what God added to the world and to our lives at the moment of one person’s birth.

What do we celebrate this Christmas? That a baby was born thousands of years ago? Why? What difference has the birth of that baby made for you? And what might our lives have been like if that baby had never been born?

As my Christmas greeting and gift to you, I offer seven short meditations. Let’s take a few moments on each of the next seven days to celebrate and rejoice at the birth of a Man who changed our lives forever.

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the paths of peace.
Luke 1:78-79