In the neighborhood that I live in, Netherwood Heights in Plainfield, New Jersey, we have an annual tradition on Christmas Eve. Neighbors gather together in the morning to create luminaries, paper bags filled with sand and a candle. The bags are then transported throughout the neighborhood and placed at the curb where they wait to be lit just before it gets dark. When the sun goes down and darkness descends on the neighborhood, light from the luminaries lines the streets, and the sight is breathtaking. One cannot walk or drive the streets of Netherwood Heights on Christmas Eve and not feel uplifted.
This display of light, combined with the lights that adorn the outside of homes and shine from the Christmas trees displayed inside those homes serve as a wonderful reminder of the birth of Jesus. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was sent into the darkness of this world just as the prophet Isaiah had written centuries before that:
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isaiah 9:2, NLT)
Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness of this fallen world. And, as John wrote in his gospel, that light cannot be extinguished by the darkness (John 1:5). With Jesus in our lives, we have His light in our hearts. And that light can’t be overcome by the darkness of the world and the enemy of our souls who works in the darkness. Here’s the thing about darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. But when light is introduced in the darkness, the darkness no longer exists. Just as the luminaries in my neighborhood shine light into the darkness of the night, so the presence of Jesus shines light into the darkness of the world. As Jesus Himself said in John 8:12, He is the light of the world and when we follow Him, we will not walk in darkness because we have the light that leads to life.