In the past few months our church’s weekly attendance has begun to outgrow our meeting space (a space that is less than two years old!). It’s a great problem to have, but has required some creative solutions from our administrative team, including four back-to-back services most Sunday mornings and TEN Christmas Eve services across two days in order to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend. Luke is on the church production team and was responsible for the four Christmas Eve Eve services held on Saturday night. This was his first time heading up production, and when I asked him later that evening how the services had gone he chuckled in embarrassment: “Well, I pretty much blew the first service,” he admitted, “but the other three went well, so I guess a 75% success rate isn’t so bad?”
His answer left me confused: he was responsible for video, sound, and lighting—important elements of a service, but not exactly pivotal; how could he have ruined a service? I got my answer the next day when we attended the identical Sunday service as a family. It was a lovely service in which we sang all of my favorite carols and our head pastor, Scott, offered a powerful presentation of the Gospel. After the sermon, Pastor Scott asked for the lights in the sanctuary to be turned all the way off as we sang O Holy Night in complete darkness. Midway through the song Scott indicated for the congregation to light our battery-operated candles and we sang out the song in candlelight.
I was lost in the beauty and holiness of this candlelit moment when Luke nudged me and whispered in my ear: “THIS is where I totally blew it. Last night, just before Scott called everyone to light their candles, I turned ALL of the stage and audience lights on HIGH. Totally ruined the effect.” I had to agree: that definitely would have put a damper on the moment. I doubt anyone’s faith was seriously hindered by Luke’s mistake, but it was one that would have been noticed by every single person in the sanctuary that night . . . because if there’s one thing about light, it can’t be hidden. There would have been no denying that the darkened room had been flooded with light. Light will always overpower the darkness.
In her devotional Fighting Words, Ellie Holcomb marvels on the simple and beautiful truth that light is always stronger than darkness. Holcomb writes, “I’ll never forget the day I was explaining to a few six-year-old boys that light was always stronger than the darkness, and how they did not believe me! So I had them go test it out. I found a flashlight and said, ‘Go take this and turn it on in every dark place you can think of and let me know what you see!’ So they took that flashlight inside closets, under couches, and in bathrooms with the lights turned off. And you know what? Every time, they would scream, ‘Ellie!! The light IS stronger! We can see it!!’
The experience inspired Holcomb to write a song about the Light of the World who shines bright, no matter how dark the night gets. The chorus of the song goes like this:
The light is strong
Nothing can keep it from shining
Even here, here in the darkest night
No matter what, nothing can keep it from shining
No matter how scared we are, The light’s always stronger.
The light’s always stronger than the dark.
As I focus on Light as my Word for 2024, I’m paying careful attention to the times when the Light of Christ shines in the darkness around me . . . and I am seeing this Light EVERYWHERE:
His truth is a light in a sea of dark lies that flood social media and work their way into my internal chatter; I replace those lies with the truth that God loves me and His opinion is the only one that matters, and the light of that truth vanquishes my insecurities and fear.
Hope is a light that allows me to keep believing in the existence of beauty and goodness; this light shines brighter than the darkness of desolation or despair.
The kindness of strangers and the sweetness of my children and the attentiveness of my husband are all lights on days that are gloomy and grey.
God’s Word is a light that offers answers to questions that left me feeling in the dark; that confusion evaporates beneath the indominable light of Scripture.
The writer of 1 John writes that in God there is no darkness at all. It is impossible for us to be walking with God and remain in darkness, and the light that illuminates our path is visible to our fellow sojourners, brightening our interactions and flooding our relationships with the truth and beauty of Christ. I am so thankful for this light that is unmistakable and always right on time.
Lord, THANK YOU for being a light—THE light—in my life. Thank you for surrounding me with your brilliance that cannot be extinguished. Help me to rest in the truth that you are the Light of the World who will enlighten the darkest nights and vanquish the darkness that can seem insurmountable. Fill me with your light and let me, in turn, be a light to the world.