Light and Darkness Day 2

Monday, Nov. 28:

AM Psalm 1, 2, 3; PM Psalm 4, 7; Amos 2:6-16;
2 Pet. 1:1-11; Matt. 21:1-11

– Paul Marvin

The Light shines in the darkness,
And the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

I have always been intrigued by thought experiments—you know, those brainteasing
puzzles that, as you think them through, help you come to see things
in a new way. They help you clarify how things really are, or really ought to be.
Here is such an experiment. I wish I had discovered it myself, but I didn’t.

Suppose you have a box, say a shoebox, and it is made of heavy cardboard.
There are no holes in it and it is tightly sealed with masking tape. Now suppose
that you take it out to your kitchen table, slit the tape open, then open the box.
What do you expect will happen? Do you expect that the darkness that was in
the box before it was opened will flood out into the kitchen and make the entire
room dark? Or do you expect that the light that was filling the kitchen will
flow into the box and reveal its contents? Of course, we rightly expect light to
flood into the box. But why do we expect this? Because we all know what light is like—it dispels darkness. That is just what light does. We turn lights on. We don’t turn darkness off.

In Romans 1:20 the Apostle Paul tells us that nature itself reveals what God
is like. I think that nature sometimes gets very specific. I think that the light
in your kitchen dispelling the darkness in your shoebox reveals something profoundly
important about what God is up to in Advent and Christmas.

The Advent season can be a time to rummage through the closets, attics, and
crawlspaces of our hearts to find those dusty old shoeboxes of darkness, those
ways in which we habitually fail to love God as we should, or our neighbors as
we should, or ourselves as we should. We gather up these boxes and, like the
Wise Men, we set out following the star toward Bethlehem bearing our gifts,
awaiting Christmas morning when we can present them to the baby Jesus.

We make the journey in confident faith and hope because we know that Jesus
came and continues to come to dispel our darkness. That is who he is—the
glorious Light of the World.

Thanks be to God, then, for the way in which he transforms my shabby shoeboxes
of darkness into precious vessels of life, love, and light.


Glory to God whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine:
Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church,
and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20, 21)

(Today’s exercise: Pay attention today to all the instances in which you turn
lights on and off. Thank God for electricity. Thank God for the way he has
delivered you from a sinful habit.)

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