Are We Lost?

This reflection was part of our Holy Light service of music and poetry. [audio]We have been imagining the Season of Advent as a journey – a journey of days, as we move closer and closer to Christmas, and a journey within as we prepare ourselves to remember the birth of Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. We’ve spent some time thinking about how, before we even take the first step, we need to make sure we’re ready, and also how we can always turn back, return to God, when we’re not sure how we can keep going.

Today, as we celebrate this season in song and verse, it is the image of light that takes center stage, and rightly so. The very first words God utters in the story of creation are: “Let there be…light.” The prophet Isaiah, whose writings we read throughout this season, spoke of a people walking in darkness, upon whom a great light will shine. In John’s gospel, written in the echoes of Genesis and the prophets, Jesus himself is the light, shining in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. And of course the Magi, traveling from Persia in the East, followed the course of a star in the heavens to the place where the infant Jesus lay.

It is the light which is our guide for this journey to the center of God. But what happens when we get lost along the way? It’s almost an anachronistic question, this idea of being lost, now that we live in a world of GPS and smart phones and On-Star navigation systems. For ancient peoples, the idea that light would help them find their way seems right; but for us city folk where light pollution is just the way it is, what do we need with more light?

The truth is, we all know that we need light; we have just forgotten. We may be sophisticated citizens of this urban and suburban sprawl, but we also live in the home of the Georgia pine and the winter storm. It’s a marriage of inconvenience, a guarantee of downed power lines and periods of darkness. We all know the disorientation of driving at night when the street lights are out – it spooks us. We have all announced to the family that the power is out, and then promptly sat down to watch TV. We may forget it much of the time, but we know that we have come to rely on the light, even more so than all who came before us.

So are you lost? Are you trying to find your way back to the heart of God? Then I invite you to sit down, maybe even light a candle in your dark night of the soul, and whisper, sing, shout to God to give you enough light to see your way clear again. And when you do, you will be surprised to find the truth of Emmanuel, that God has been right there with us all along.