Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What the Wise Men's Star Can Teach Us About Light and Darkness

In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 1:4-5 

We usually associate the star that appeared in the night sky, guiding the wise men to the new born King, as a "before Christmas" event, but in reality, this part of the Christmas story really occurs some time after the birth of Jesus.  Knowing that helps us remember that the message of "God With Us" is for all of our days, not just a few special holy days.  And the fact that wise men from the East were the ones who recognized the sign in the sky and came to worship the new King teaches us that God reaches to all of mankind, even those who we would call unbelievers or pagan...

...all are invited into the light....

The Christmas Star teaches us about contrasts:
 - moments of sparkling joy excavated from under blankets of black suffering
 - smiles in the midst of tears
 - the riches of kings laid at the feet of an infant
 - death and life, life and death
 - journeys and arrivals
 - mysteries and revelations
 - prophecies and promises fulfilled
 - hardships and abundance
 - light penetrating darkness
 - heaven invading earth 
 - the Creator becoming one with creation

A little later, still in the book of John, we read this:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
John 8:12 

And though we have the light of life, and therefore we are never in total darkness, there are times when:

For now we see through a glass, darkly
but then face to face: 
now I know in part; but then shall I know 
even as also I am known.  
1 Corinthians 13:12 

The Christmas Star teaches us that Light will always overwhelm the darkness,
                                                    that Light will illuminate and lead to the path of life,
                                                    that Light will reveal that which is presently not understood,
                                                    that the Light will always shine, even when a heart may remain closed to it,
                                                                 patiently, gently warming it with Its eternal fire...           
                                                     that Light came to be present with us, in all of life's darkness...

John Piper shared great wisdom in regards to suffering and hope in his poem "The Innkeeper" that helps us remember that the hearts of those who suffer need our tender care...and tending to the suffering is the reason that Jesus came in the first place.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize . . . 
but one who in every respect has been tested as we are.
(Hebrews 4:15)

Just as the Wise Men from the East had to journey a great distance over much time, following the beaconing star, and finally finding the object of their worship, so also those who face pain and brokenness this past holiday season and through the new year will have a long journey over time - and as they follow the Light that shines into their darkness, they will come to their own personal place of worshipping the One whose Light will ultimately engulf all this darkness...

Let us lift up our prayers and keep watch with all those who are hurting...

(This is a revised post from 2012 - click here if you want to read the original)