Text – John 1:6-8, 19-28:
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
Advent occurs in the darkest time of the year. December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the day of the longest darkness of the year – Sunset at 4:00 pm, Sunrise, 12/22, at 8:05 am. That is 8 hours of light and 16 hours of darkness. A reminder of why Advent is such an important observance in the Christian calendar.
We wait, as earth dwellers, for the time in which light and dark will switch places in terms of a percentage of our days. We also wait for the time in which the spiritual darkness of our world will give way to the Light of God. It is to this light that John the Baptist gives testimony in this text.
This is also the One that Mary & Joseph, Elizabeth & Zechariah waiting in the opening of the Gospel of Luke. Although they did not know the extent to which this would be true, only that this child to be born carried divine credentials and approval. Nor did the shepherds know the implications of what they had been told by angels. Nor the Magi that followed the star.
Advent, in the darkest time of the year, is also the time when we expect the brightest light we have ever seen. Praise God for that.
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
by Charles Wesley, 1739
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”
Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth. [Refrain]
Dear Father, In this month of the shortest day and the longest darkness, we give thanks for the true light coming into the world. In your son we have a floodlight of direction, rescue, and illumination. In your son we have an end to the unbearable darkness of our time. This Advent we wait for You in joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Turn off all the lights an hour before bedtime. Talk with your family about what the experience is like. Talk about the fearful aspects of it as well as how you have to compensate in order to live in such darkness.