“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2 NRSV).
Christmas can be an especially important time for cancer patients. The disease can take us through places of deep darkness. We need the Christmas season to remember and celebrate the Light of the World. As difficult and dark as cancer can be, it can never overtake the light of Jesus Christ.
In today’s reading, the prophet speaks to those living in dark and difficult times. It was a time of great suffering, fear, and death.
But in his prophecy, Isaiah looks ahead several hundred years to the birth of Jesus, God’s promised Messiah, the Christ Child. Jesus would be the “great light” for those living in deep darkness. He would save them from their enemies, sin, and death. Jesus is “The Light of The World” (John 8:12).
Jesus would be born in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn. The world would still have its share of troubles; but they would all be seen in a new light!
One of my favorite Christmas traditions has long been the candle lighting at the Christmas Eve service. As the congregation begins the closing hymn, the sanctuary’s lights are turned off. The servers light their candles from the Christ candle at the front of the sanctuary, and then proceed to light the congregations’ candles. Starting at the first row, congregants pass the light one from to another, leaning their candles together and touching their wicks until igniting another little flame. Soft singing continues as the warm glow spreads across each face and the sanctuary until every candle is lit. When the music ends, we stand together in silence, beholding the beautiful sight. The pastor often encourages us to turn and look around us (carefully), and let the moment soak in.
The candle lighting provides a powerful reminder of Christ’s birth. The candles in hand remind us of Christ’s presence in our world and in us. God loves us. Jesus comes for us and shines in us. No darkness can overcome the Light of the World. Not even cancer!
During the Christmas season, lights are everywhere. Candles are just the beginning. Trees are adorned with lights. Houses are wrapped in lights. Yards, neighborhoods, and even the streets of town are strung with illuminating decorations. Everything shines brightly.
Each light can be a reminder of Jesus. He is the light of the world, the light of life, and understanding. His light is the way, the truth, and the life. His light is healing, warmth, and joy.
Getting into the spirit may be difficult. You may not be up to hanging lots of lights. That is perfectly ok. You may light a single candle. Or you may go and see the lights of others. Find a way to thank God for the great light of Jesus shining even now.
Christmas lights can best be seen in the dark. Similarly, we often see Jesus, the Light of the World, when we walk through the darkness!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, shine your great light in the darkness of this disease. This Christmas may each light remind me of your constant presence and your abundant blessings. Help me always to walk in your light. Amen.
Your turn: “Morning Star: O Cheering Sight” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I have very precious memories of this song in the Christmas Eve service. A young child with a beautiful voice was chosen to sing solo and lead the congregation in responding throughout each verse.
The above devotional was written for Cancer Companions soon to be released devotional book: "Embracing Hope with Certainty: Daily Reflections from Inside the Cancer Journey."