December 4, Friday

John 1:6-9 (NRSV)

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

Nearly every year that I’ve lived in Helena, I’ve taken Zay, one of our students, to look at Christmas lights. Zay is the creator of a rigid five-point system for grading Christmas lights. A “1” goes to the houses with one wreath and a small string of lights; a “5” goes to those who go all out. But at each and every house, she leans forward to see what the people have done to decorate their home, and often without realizing it I do too, because the lights bring us joy. They’re part of the anticipation of Christmas. The lights arrive after we’ve begrudgingly accepted the increased presence of darkness that comes with the shortened days of fall, offering a reason to hope. “Joy is coming,” the lights say to us.

You can almost feel that same sense of joy and anticipation in this passage. John testified to the light – he’d seen it, and he could speak about its power to a people desperate for a reason to hope. The light’s power is the most real to those who know the darkness.

This is Advent. We remember the darkness that the Israelites felt waiting on their Messiah: the darkness of slavery, exile, rule from empires against which they could not stand.

But the light was coming into the world.

And like the Israelites, we acknowledge the darkness of our time: racism, poverty, illness, people without a place to call home or people to call family, how John’s testimony echoes.

The light is coming into the world.

Lean forward, people of God, and you will see hope! People testify to the light. Young people serve selflessly. Communities step across the boundaries of race and class to hear and learn from each other. Nations and neighborhoods welcome the stranger.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, is coming into the world.

Where do you see the light coming into the world?
How can you testify to the light this Advent season?

Light of the world, where we see darkness and hopelessness in our communities and our world, may we testify to your light in word and in deed. Amen.


By Mollie Palmer, Together for Hope, Arkansas Director
First Baptist Church, Jonesboro


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