Christmas Eve Candlelight Service: Come with the family as we journey From Darkness to Light in a candlelight service. We will be reflecting on Isaiah 60:1-3 where Isaiah celebrates that the Lord’s light has come, and the Lord’s glory rises upon us!
From Darkness to Light Isaiah 60:1-3
December 24, 2021
It’s Christmas Eve, a time of hope, symbolized by light, but the wreath and candles all leading to the lighting of the Christ Candle which symbolizes the coming of Jesus to chase the darkness away. Light is powerful, it chases darkness away, it takes the power and fear that darkness often brings and replaces it with hope and strength. This evening we heard the story of God’s redemption, we sang songs of hope and peace, we lit candles to banish the darkness of sin, and the different forms of darkness that can creep into our souls, by shining the light of Jesus on them.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Light has come bringing hope, courage, and strength. Light and glory are intertwined as Isaiah connects the light in Isaiah 60 to God, echoing back to when God lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt by leading them through the wilderness with a pillar of fire and cloud. Isaiah shouts out to the Israelites, “Get up, see the light shining, God is on the move.” Jerusalem is in ashes, ruin, and despair. But, just when it looks as if the sun will never rise again, there are hints that dawn is about to break, God’s getting ready to bring Israel home again to the Promised Land.
Darkness may cover the land, thick darkness over the peoples, but when the light of the Lord rises on us, when he shines his glory over us, there’s no way the darkness stands a chance! I love how Rachel Hackenberg paraphrases these verses and reflects on them, “For darkness shall cover the earth like a fog, and dense clouds will hide all people from one another, but the LORD will arise upon you and God’s glory will be over you. Seriously, it’s time! The grace that you know, the passion for justice that you share, the fellowship that binds you: these are needed to bear witness to the dawn! Lift up your eyes and look around: nations shall come to your light; people will gather together; your sons shall return from their wars and your daughters shall find healing. Do not be shy or fearful. Look and see the light that you have been given to shine together. Live boldly as the very best community that God has called you to be and watch how others come to join with you in beaming with God’s Spirit. Then you shall see and be radiant. Your heart shall thrill and rejoice! You will be surprised by the gifts that are shared — brought by sea and by camel — in joyful praise of the LORD. Let grace beget grace, let joy beget joy, let light beget light, to the glory of God! You — and me, and us, and all people as far as you can imagine with your arms stretched wide — together we are the new thing that God is doing in this world, for the sake of the world.”
Now we move from Isaiah to Luke, to the light of the world coming during another time of darkness in Israel. God begins a new thing by sending his son to become human, to come and shine his light into the world and draw people to his light. Luke 2:6–14, “While they, Mary and Joseph, were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Close your eyes a moment and try to imagine being outside in a dark night, no moon or stars shining, and suddenly a light appears? Imagine the difference the light brings; imagine the relief you’ll experience in seeing the light. Now imagine being with the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, sitting with them in the dark of night, and suddenly an angel, a messenger from God appears with God’s glory shining brightly in the darkness, sharing good news, God is doing an amazing thing, the Saviour has finally arrived! The light of the world has appeared! While the times may be dark and life may be difficult, the darkness now has to contend with the creator of the world whose first words were, “Let there be light,” and the Bile tells us that there was light, and it was good. Professor Brett Younger writes, “This child of light whose birthday we just celebrated—who Isaiah dreamed was coming, who the magi traveled so far to see—took on the darkness so we could see the light. It’s hard to explain and we can’t prove it, but if we look carefully, we may see a flicker of hope even in the darkest night.”
We light our candles from the Christ Candle as a symbol that Jesus’ light shines into our lives, and we carry Jesus’ light into our communities so that they too may have hope. By taking the light of Jesus out the doors into the neighbourhood, we help them see that Jesus can shine his light into their darkness, that hope has come for all people. We hear God call to us in Isaiah 42:6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,” repeated again in the servant song in Isaiah 49:6, where God points to the promised Messiah, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Now take the light of the world with you and shine it brightly into the lives of all those Jesus places in your path.