Advent Week 2: The Dark Side of Christmas

advent2Christmas season is upon us.  Malls are slammed with shoppers and people coming to visit Santa.  Kirk Cameron and Fox News are getting evangelicalism all geeked up about the so-called War on Christmas.  Football fans are all geeked up about the upcoming bowl season and the playoff.  And people are talking about holiday plans, stressing about difficult in-laws and all the other complications which the season inevitably brings.

But for some of us, there is a much darker side to Christmas.  Some of us have lost loved ones this past year, or seen a spouse or significant other leave, or are facing health challenges or an unexpected / unwanted change in professional status.  This is the first Christmas alone or without your loved one or in your new life circumstances.  And it feels very stressful–way more stressful than the usual holiday drama that the rest of us are dealing with.

What can possibly be said for people who are experiencing the dark side of Christmas?

We go to the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of man.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it….

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

–John 1:1-5, 14

This is new.  In every other religious system of the world, the Word (or whatever they would call it) is something written down, something to read and learn and live by.  But in Christianity, though there is a written word to learn and live by, the Word is so much more than that.  The Word is an actual person, one who has come to live among us.

But wait.  It gets better.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  (John 14:16-17)

But I tell you the truth:  It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you, but if I go, I will send you to you….  I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  (John 16:7, 12-13)

This is unheard of:  Not only has God come to dwell with us through Jesus Christ, but he is now living in us through the Counselor/Spirit of truth, whom we know as the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit inside of us will not speak on his own but will only speak what he hears.  He will remind you of what is true–namely that you are a baptized child of God and that no matter what happens you are still part of the family of God and all the things which God has promised to his children are still true of you.  And he will remind you of what is yet to come–namely that Jesus is coming again and all that is wrong in our world will be made right.  Jesus is coming to establish His kingdom here on earth, and you get to be a part of it.