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Lights illuminate Christian tradition

Students can acknowledge the forms of light during Christmas and Advent season, and become lights themselves.   |   Tomber Su/ THE CHIMES [file]

 

Light is a theme of the Bible, from start—Genesis 1:3—to finish—Revelation 21:23-24. It is who God is. It is what the arrival of Jesus in Bethlehem meant—John 1:9. It is our calling—Matthew 5:14.

Are we shining the light of Christ in the darkness?

This is why light is so central to Advent and Christmas. We light Advent candles, we string lights on our trees and houses and we hold Christmas Eve candlelight services because this is what it’s all about, as said in John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Biola: our world today desperately needs this light. This is our calling. This is our time. Are we shining the light of Christ in the darkness?

The year 2016 has been a hard year. The divisions of our world are explosive. There is a pervasive anxiety and hopelessness. Despair runs deep for many. The political divides in our nation have never seemed wider. Darkness is everywhere in the news.

But darkness, as we know, is really just the absence of light.

Now more than ever, our task as Christians must be one of bringing presence into the absence, shining light into the darkness, proclaiming the Good News to a world so rife with bad news. But how do we do this?

One way we can be light is by modeling in our speech and relationships something different than the hateful, condescending and polarizing tones we see on the news and on social media.

One way we can do this is by prioritizing social relationships over social media, bringing light into the real, tangible relationships that define our day-to-day lives: with neighbors, classmates, co-workers and not just the ones who look and believe like we do.

we can be lights in our dark world

Too many of today’s highly charged debates happen in disembodied digital space, divorced from real relationship. Among other things, the internet allows us to surround ourselves with voices that feed our biases and intensify our sense of aggrievement. But what we desperately need are more real, in-person relationships with people who are different from us.

It is easier than ever to retreat into communities of sameness, and it is certainly more comfortable. But healing will only begin when we rediscover the beauty and importance of relationships with people who challenge us, people who we rub shoulders with in our day-to-day lives whose ideas might rub us the wrong way.

During Advent we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, that God became a human and walked, talked, ate, drank, cried, listened and laughed with us. God with us. Presence. This is such a powerful, redemptive idea.

As followers of Jesus Christ, can we also be people of presence? People who live out the incarnate love of Christ in our classrooms, dorm rooms, dinner tables?

During this Advent season I challenge us as a community to spend a bit less time on our phones and other devices, and a bit more time in physical presence with people. Look at each other, listen, laugh, cry with one another, as Jesus did. This is one way we can be lights in our dark world.

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