The darkness is encroaching at all sides. I wake up to darkness, and go through the morning in darkness. Even when the light does come it is hidden by clouds. We’re in this perpetually gray season. It’s like those 65 days of not sunshine that Colorado gets have all come right in a row. The wind keeps blowing. Spits of snow tease momentarily but disappear before even meeting the ground. Hours before the day is over it is dark again. The night drags on.
Today is the shortest day of the year. Shorter in some places (God bless you Canada and Alaska folks) but still too short here. The hours of black loom ahead. Our weary, vitamin D deficient, sleepy bodies grow lethargic. For a brief time we are given a piece of sky or a ray of sunshine. But it fades quickly And the gray of the day is not enough to move us from the gray of our apathetic souls. The world seems so barren, colorless. And then it is dark again.
The candles are lit. One after the other. A little flame, then another. Dancing, as if in merriment. The porch light is flicked on, the Christmas lights on the tree twinkle. The stars come out, burning billions of miles away so that we might get tiny pinpricks of light in the depths of our night. It is so dark but it seems so bright. It’s like the light that happens in darkness could be the best light of all. It’s like merry-making happens most in the dark. It’s like the light shines forth best under the canopy of a black sky.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby: keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around around them.
The night watch. That’s what these shepherds were assigned to. Stay awake during the night, through the darkness, in the black, keep watch. There might have been some stars twinkling, perhaps a fire to keep them warm. But it was night. They were in the dark.
Our very darkest moments may just be when the light might shine brightest.
Our weakness, our exhaustion, our despair, our depression, our apathy, our listlessness, our stumbling. This may just be the moment that we encounter Christ, the true light of the world. It might be now, the darkest day of the year, the hardest time of your life, that the good news comes to you. Like a flash of lightning, radiant, dazzling, illuminating. Here, in the dark, the glory of God will shine forth.