It All Starts in the Dark

Pastor Rob Hamilton

I appreciate the natural and theological wisdom Barbara Brown Taylor shares in the above quote (and her book). As Christians all of God’s creating and recreating work begins in the dark. Our 6pm Christmas Eve service walks through this theological truth with the lights very low and candles not yet lit, then music stirs, a reading from Genesis 1“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” But then God speaks, and light comes into existence. 

The story of Jesus begins the same way in John 1 this time the universe isn’t dark but is our humanity that is dark. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

We’re sitting in the darkest days of the year in our hemisphere, longing for more light to come. Maybe it is because we are afraid of the dark, or of being alone with our thoughts, or of being isolated, or of being forever distant from God. But as we see above, God tends to do God’s most poignant and brilliant work in the dark, waiting for that moment to reveal a new creation, new life in us. 

As we get ready for our Christmas celebrations, I want to share a prayer that we will use in our Christmas Eve worship services adapted from “The Cloth for the Cradle” that reminds those of us in the dark that indeed we are not alone, and that God is working with us. 

Holy God,

When the world was dark
and the city quiet
you came.
You crept in beside us.

And no-one knew
only the few
who dared to believe
that God might do something different.

Will you do the same this Christmas, Lord?
Will you come into the darkness of tonight’s world;
not the friendly darkness
as when sleep rescues us from tiredness,
but the fearful darkness,
in which people have stopped believing:

that war will end
or that food will come
or that a government will change
or that the Church cares?

Will you come into that darkness and do something different
to save your people from debt and despair?

Will you come into the quietness of our Fox Valley towns,
not the friendly quietness
as when lovers hold hands, but the fearful silence
when the phone has not rung,
when texts go unanswered,
when the friendly voice no longer speaks,
when the doctor’s face says it all?

Will you come into that darkness,
and do something different,
not to distract,
but to embrace your people?

And will you come into the dark corners and the quiet places of our lives?

We ask this not because we are guilt ridden
or want to be,
but because the fullness our lives long for
depends on us being as open and vulnerable to you
as you were to us,
when you came,
wearing no more than a diaper
and trusting human hands to hold their maker.
Will you come into our lives,
if we open them to you,
and do something different?

When the world was dark
and the city was quiet
you came.

You crept in beside us.

Do the same this Christmas, Lord.
Do the same this Christmas.