"The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it."
Christmas is getting closer and closer here in South Africa, and Kieren, Ntokozo and I were able to celebrate on Tuesday night by attending a Christmas Carols night. It was hosted at one of our Ocean View Methodist leaders' workplaces. We dragged along a ton of people from the church to spend the evening with us, and I was asked to share a devotional. As I have been reading and reading and READING about the gospel of John for my upcoming course I will be teaching, the theme of light and dark has been hitting my heart. John tells us that Jesus came to be the light of the world, and no darkness is ever strong enough to overtake that light. This Christmas is a different one for sure. It's our second here in Africa, but last year my parents came to visit the day after Christmas and so we got special time with them. This year the reality hits hard that we are 'alone' out here with out our beloved family and friends back in the States. We are making great plans and starting new traditions, but our hearts long for the little things that made up so many Christmas' of our past. As I think about light, a picture keeps coming in my head, of myself as a child (and even as an adult) laying underneath a Christmas tree that has been strung with little lights. In the dark, looking up at the lights almost seems magical and there is a special spirit and power of those lights. It's almost hard to put into words. The disciple John was trying to describe something, or really someone, that also was indescribable in Jesus Christ. No word or metaphor could fully capture the power of the Messiah that had come to earth, but something that John evidently loves to come back to is that Jesus is light among all the darkness in our world. The 'lights' are different this Christmas and for sure, the darkness is stronger than I have ever known or experienced. Ocean View is a harsh place, a place of violence, drugs, loneliness, hate, and confusion. And yet John tells me this Christmas that no matter how dark it may get in our community, the light of Jesus Christ is always stronger. The only reason I can believe this audacious claim is that I am seeing this Light at work all around us, and truly it is real. Even though there are new traditions, songs, and look to this Christmas, the light is so much more real than it has ever been and I take that light to share and celebrate in a new way this year. The light truly does overcome the darkness, and I am thankful to live and experience it every day, even in my own heart.
Lots of love,