Eugene Peterson once spoke at Laity Lodge about Christ coming as the light of the world. Coming to bring light into darkness. To push back the darkness. Peterson then asked, “As Christ’s followers, how are each one of us pushing back against the darkness?”
My friend Kelsie Wessels calls the season of Advent our “protest of the darkness.”
I love these ideas—pushing back against and protesting darkness—considering this season to be both a source of hope and an invitation along our own journeys.
In the last two years, my family has known the heartache of intense loss—first losing my dad to Alzheimer’s and a year later my sister to cancer. Long endured sickness, loss, and the ensuing grief have allowed me a painful insight into the brokenness of our world. And, honestly, it’s been a weighty, lonely darkness I haven’t before experienced. And yet the more I strain my eyes and fumble to find my footing in this foreign-feeling, dark stretch of the journey, the more I sense my desperate need for God’s promises this Advent season:
“The true light that gives light to everyone [is] coming into the world.” (John 1:9)
“They shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
More than any other time in my life, I am leaning in to those scriptural promises—those reminders that God’s light has come to be with us. To be with me. That is the hope that holds me securely. It is the hope that pushes back against this darkness. It is the hope that allows my weary soul to rejoice.
And I have witnessed the beauty of God’s people answering the invitation, showing up for us to push back against the darkness. Bringing meals in the foggy weeks that followed our losses. Stopping by the house to just sit for a while. Sending kind notes with stories of my dad. Or dropping a gift on the doorstep in memory of my sister on the hardest day—her birthday. Those simple but powerful acts of compassion and care have been like light posts on this dark stretch of road for me. Shining with hope, peace, joy, and love, these friends protest the darkness and echo the assurance that I am not alone. God is with us.
As each of our families prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, may we reflect on pastor Eugene Peterson’s question: how are we pushing back against the darkness?
Thank you, Lord, that Christmas is coming. Thank you for the hope we have in Christ. I pray that we may recognize that you are with us and you have also extended to us the invite to push back against the darkness. Is there someone very near my own path in desperate need of your warm, illuminating light? Help me to recognize them as many dear friends and neighbors have also done for me.
Jenny Hendricks – Social Media Content Editor and wife to LLFC’s Senior Director, Cary Hendricks