Unsettling Advent 2023, Day 15
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:4-5, 9)
Jesus was born into a dark time. The first century was marked with brutality, terror, tyranny, and greed. Even the ruler of the day, Herod the Great, was so threatened by the possibility of the birth of the Messiah that he ordered all innocents under the age of two years old in Bethlehem to be killed. We are told there was weeping and great mourning.
This description could describe the reality for many in the Holy Land today. In Israel, more than 30 children were killed in the horrors of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. In Gaza, the death toll from bombing and Israeli attacks includes too many children to count. As of mid-December, more than 8,000 children have been killed. Mothers “weeping for their children and refusing to be comforted” (Matthew 2:18).
It is within this same context of devastation, sorrow, grief, and a broken world that we learn about the Christ child coming into the world. “In him was life, and that life was the light of mankind” (John 1:4). The love of God is so profound that love entered into the world through the person of Jesus Christ, fully human and fully God, incarnated.
In the midst of the darkest loss and the most profound human tragedy, God reminds us that darkness will not win the day. Evil will not triumph. Rather, light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not prevail.
The hope that we profess this Advent season is that the love of God and the light of the world through Jesus is made known. Faith demands that even in the darkest times we have hope that the sorrows and brokenness of the world are not the end of the story, but rather the “true light” of God will come. And the world will one day be fully redeemed.
This is our hope and prayer within the depths of our souls — for the end of violence, death, and killing — and for peace to reign on earth.
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace and author of Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age.