The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: "The LORD is our righteousness."
~ Jeremiah 33:14 - 16
"We fumbled through drawers, searching for a book of matches, or an old lighter, but couldn't seem to find anything we needed. I held what was left of a small votive candle, while the storm seemed to continue to rage all around us. My children held close to me as I looked to find something that would create a single light that would allow us to see that everything was still okay around us."
The story was part of a conversation I had one day with a woman who talked about being alone with her children when a storm came up unexpectedly, knocking out their electricity, and leaving them in the dark.
The question came when I asked about the "storms" that she had experienced in her life. Well into her 80's, she had already lived decades. As I listened to her share of valleys and mountain tops she had journeyed, this particular time of darkness in life came when she was left alone, to raise three children on her own, and she had no one to help her.
It's amazing to think that a single light would have made a difference for her that night, "but it would have," she shared. She knew that if she could get even a glimpse of the room that she and her children were in, there would be a sense that everything would be okay. Instead she said, "We sat in the dark and just held one another, waiting for either the electricity to come back on, or the sun to finally rise."
"It was a long, dark night."
The days leading up to the first Sunday of Advent for me always seem to be surrounded with more darkness than normal. I don't know what it is. Perhaps I am more aware of the pain that people are experiencing. Maybe it is the unrest that seems to fill even the line at the grocery store as I look at headlines of magazines and newspapers that line both sides of the aisle as I wait to check out.
Somehow, I am seeking to see that first flicker of light coming from the Advent wreath to once again feel as if things are going to be okay, or at least give me hope. Perhaps that's why the first candle lit in the Advent wreath is about hope. It is the reminder that a single light, a single child, is all that we need to begin to find comfort. It's not that the things of the world are immediately overwhelmed by the light of one candle that represents hope. It is, however, the reminder that any one of us can be the light to and for others in the storms that they may be facing.
For any of us, it is a single light that illuminates the entire world, giving us hope that things will get better, and that hope, even on the darkest of days, exists still.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.