Advent is almost done. Christmas is nearly here.
We’re halfway out of the dark.
The incarnation—God becoming like us—may be the greatest miracle of all. Maybe even greater than someone rising from the dead.
At Christmas, we celebrate the start of something, not the end. We are heading out of the dark. But we are not there yet.
It’s fitting that Advent and Christmas mark the start of a new church year, in contrast to our Gregorian calendar. During Advent, we anticipate not one but two comings, two in-breakings of God’s presence. Christmas is the celebration of one of those comings. Our redemption is not yet complete.
A few days ago, we turned a corner on the darkness. The morning after the winter solstice, the longest night of the year—and after more than a week without seeing the sun here in Michigan—we were greeted by a brilliant sunrise pouring in through our bedroom window. There are many more long, dark nights to come, but each will be slightly shorter than the one before. We are heading toward the light. Little by little.
As we celebrate Christmas, we remember that we are halfway out of the dark. God’s light has invaded our world, but darkness still prevails all around us (and in us). We only need to look at events of recent months to see this.
A brutal war in Gaza. (Have we already forgotten that one?)
The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.
The scourge of racism still very much alive in this country and claiming new victims every day.
And of course, the horrific slaying of two police officers just days before Christmas.
We are not yet out of the dark.
Surely God could have wrapped up everything in one incarnation. Surely all he needed was a quick trip to earth, and everything—sin, death, evil, and oppression—would be sorted.
He could have. But he didn’t.
Maybe there’s a reason he left us in partial darkness.
Maybe it’s because he didn’t mean for us to be passive observers in our redemption, in the renewal of all things. Maybe he’s waiting for us to join him in the sacred work of banishing the darkness.
In my children’s book, I describe redemption as “God making the world right and good again.” It’s one of the paradoxes of our faith that only God can do this work, yet he does not do it on his own. He invites us to become part of it.
Christmas is a reminder that our redemption has begun. But it’s also a reminder that God’s work is unfinished. There is more light to be uncovered, more darkness to be banished. In other words, we have work to do.
In the year ahead, may we all do our part to bring this world (and ourselves) a little more out of the dark. May we all shine a little more light of compassion, justice, and inclusion.
And yes, the title of this post is a nod to the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special. Embrace your inner Whovian.