Blog post by Ashley Bowie, a child at heart, and a weirdy to the core.
I’m a believer. I am inclined toward belief. As a kid I would get lost in stories that featured characters whose lives seemed to carry this inexplicable sense of purpose. They would start their days in a drifting prose, unexpected things would happen to them and they would gasp, the world would slow down and they would have a moment. They would have this really life altering moment. I believe in those moments. It irked me as a kid that I would wake up to the stubbornly ordinary of my life, I would walk through the world with my hands facing out, no joke, not lifted up or raised but facing out, ready for my moment. I would build stories for people I had never met, dream up impossibly heroic scenarios for myself and I would wait. Wait to be told that my necklace that I bought at a flea market was actually magical, or that the boy I liked recognized a pattern in my freckles that meant I was a descendant of a goddess.
I was a weird kid, I don’t mind if you think that. But you have to admit there is a trace of that same kind of weird in all of us. We all want to think that there is more to the world than what we face every day, than slugging through our own routines and emotions, putting up with the world's imperfections like there is no solution, wishing for superheroes, and magic items that tell us how to fix the problems, how to rise out of ordinary and show the world something astounding for a change.
Christmas feels like magic. Maybe less so now than when I was young, but I still thrill at our tendency to light up the dark with our symbols of peace and hope and joy, raging against the cold indifference of winter running its course, and pressing light and joy into the empty night. I still delight in bringing the wild into my home, in thinking sincerely about all the people I love and how I can show them what they mean to me. I’d like to believe that the right combination of Christmas cookies and well spoken words of love will shift the balance of the world out of chaos and hate, and have us all leaning into love and peace.
Above all I believe in words. When God created the world, He spoke it into existence. Jesus made sick people well with His words, nations have been rallied to war, comfort is delivered, freedom is declared, love is proclaimed, all by the delicate process of air through lips, words on a page.
A prophecy was delivered, shouted through centuries, clung to in sleepless nights, hoped for, fought for and then whispered as a baby was born among the least of these, raised in adversity, rallied against injustice and delivered peace to the world if we would have it.
Behold, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. - Isaiah 9:2
I love this verse. I can hear the shattered pieces, like a whisper right against my heart, like a memory and a reminder.
The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. - Matthew 4:16
Jesus came into this world, to find the lost, to save them, to rescue them from destruction. When we think of this, our minds go to the cross. We think of the sacrifice of Jesus. He shed His blood, He paid our price. He ransomed us from the clutches of death and brought us in to be adopted as His brothers and sisters. He did, I will not contradict that. But the very first thing he did, His first act as human was to shine a light upon those walking in darkness.
We stumble about, we hurt each other out of ignorance and sometimes out of fear or hate but mostly the fear and hate is because of something we don’t understand, something we cannot see. But behold, a people walking in darkness have seen a great light. For 33 years before He died, Jesus shone his light on the world, He illuminated the dark places for us. He taught us how to love, how to face down hatred and run the race despite the fear.
I was walking once, through the fresh snow, with those massive flakes falling gently around me, insulating me from the noise of the world. Everything felt so calm and peaceful and I just stopped. I wasn’t thinking anything in particular, I wasn’t on some important mission or feeling very full of purpose. But I stopped there on the sidewalk and looked around me at the world blanketed in glittering white and I had one of those moments. I felt the whole world slow down and I opened my palms and thought; “I will walk in the light, I will welcome the relief from the darkness, I will hold out my hands to those who crave the light.”
In the dead of winter, on the longest and coldest nights we put lights on our houses, we remember the baby king, we celebrate His life. We celebrate light. May we not clutter the season with obligations and desperate attempts at magic moments. May we see the glorious light, may we reach out to those walking in darkness, as Christ our light and our life has shown us, has shone upon us, has not only died, but lived for us.