Making Room: Turn Off the Lights

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by Ben Gibson

We live in a world with too much light. At the flip of a switch we have access to something which was hard to come by for most of human history. Light emanates from our phones, from our computers. On an episode of Planet Earth, David Attenborough (in his ever so pleasant British accent) explained that the light from cities has caused confusion among baby sea turtles who once were guided to the ocean by the moon. Upon hatching, the first light they see is street lamps rather than the moon, resulting in the baby turtles fumbling across streets and curbs rather than waddling to the ocean. Even tiny turtles on the edge of the civilized world cannot escape the ever present deluge of light.

We live in a world where we set up too many lights to live by. We are uncomfortable in darkness and ambiguity. So, we search out lights to guide us. We are drawn toward the lights of success, comfort, relationship, and career. These are not bad things. But just as the village lights become fatal for baby turtles who are drawn toward streets with rushing cars, the lights we let guide us draw us toward something other than our true home. Confused by the numerous lights that we see giving off a dull glow, we lose sight of the light we were born to see.

Take time to sit in the darkness. The only way to find the true light is to turn off the other ones. Growing up, my parents would nightly have us turn off all the lights in the house to light the advent candles. We would do our advent devotional, reading and singing by only the few remaining lights. During this Advent season, we should turn off the phone sooner than we think we should and power down the computer before all our work is done. We need to turn off the lights. In those dark moments we can take the time to recognize what we have set up as lights in our hearts. We should strip them away so that our souls might spend some moments in darkness. We might just see the light that has come down.

 

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Advent at the Chapel: The Light of Grace

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But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 
so that, just as sin reigned in death, 
so also grace might reign through righteousness 
to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:20-21
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Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness, I am your sin.
You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours.
You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not.
~Martin Luther
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The issue is now clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.
~G.K. Chesterton

by Emily Gibson

Advent is not like randomly creating two opposing teams in grade school, numbering off one-two-one-two until everyone knows where they stand, the weak and the strong all thrown together by random chance.

Advent is not like an explosive election year where choosing sides means being aligned with a political candidate with whom I vehemently disagree, simply to avoid supporting an even worse option.

Advent is not like a Lincoln-Douglas debate tournament where I might represent one viewpoint for the first round, and then be asked to represent the opposite viewpoint in the second half.

Advent is like being chosen, even if, klutz that I am, it means being the last to be picked for any sports team with all my limitations, my poor coordination, my weakness and my flaws.

Advent is being chosen not for an hour or a day or a year, but for eternity; whether I’ll stand in the light of grace as it shines on my dark, glum, sullen head or will stay unexposed and hidden in the shadows.

It isn’t about choosing, but being chosen,
my flaws being taken on and covered by Christ,
just as I am,
so that I might become what I was not before.

 

Though the light shines on things unclean, yet it is not thereby defiled.
~Augustine

 

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For Advent devotions this year, we are using Pastor Tim Keller’s themes in his new book  Hidden Christmas

Advent at the Chapel: The Dawning of Light

by Emily Gibson

 

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Made for spirituality,
we wallow in introspection.
Made for joy,
we settle for pleasure.
Made for justice, 
we clamor for vengeance.
Made for relationship,
we insist on our own way.
Made for beauty,
we are satisfied with sentiment.

But new creation has already begun.
The sun has begun to rise.

Christians are called to leave behind,
in the tomb of Jesus Christ,
all that belongs to the brokenness
and incompleteness of the present world.  
It is time, in the power of the Spirit,
to take up our proper role, 
our fully human role, 
as agents, heralds and stewards 
of the new day that is dawning.

That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian,
to follow Jesus Christ into the new world,
God’s new world,
which he has thrown open before us.
~N.T. Wright from Simply Christian

 

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I was made for better than I am.

I was given a voice,
to give thanks, not complain.
I was given two strong legs,
to stand not sit, walk not rest, climb stairs not ride.
I was given two good hands,
to build up not tear down.
I was given eyes,
to see and acknowledge,
not avert and hide behind.
I was given ears,
to listen to your Words,
not my own.
I was asked to follow wherever you may take me:
even in this darkened world
even as the sun begins to rise
even as you make all things new again~
including me.

 

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For Advent devotions this year, we are using Pastor Tim Keller’s themes in his new book  Hidden Christmas

Advent at the Chapel: The Meaning of Light

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by Hosanna Lovegren

There are many kinds of light– bright morning sunlight that makes the earth look clean. Light that dazzles the eyes at midday. The colored displays of sundown. The lights for the night–starlight and moonlight and the homey light that twinkles from windows and far off towns. Light helps us to see. Light is beautiful. Light is good.

In thinking about this I have noticed that we find light at the very beginning of our Bibles and at the end. After God created light, “he saw that the light was good, and he separated it from the darkness.” Then, in those last descriptive pages about the New Jerusalem, the reality put forth is bathed in light. Created light is no longer needed, for the glory of God will give it light, and the Lamb of God will be its lamp. God’s children “will see his face…and there will be no more night.” So, surrounding the story of man’s fall and the Lord’s provision of a savior for his people–we have shining descriptions of light. Our world began with light. It will end in light, and in between, to guide us through this valley of darkness, it is sprinkled with God’s light.

For those who do not understand the light, these things have no meaning. But for us, how much. Isaiah: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” It was dark, we could not see, but Jesus came into the world and also into our hearts. “You once lived in darkness,” Paul says, “but now you live in his light.” We walk in light, and yet we are also waiting for that final day, as Peter says, when “the morning star will rise in our hearts.”

Recently our family read of the perilous journey Christopher Columbus made with his men across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a water passage to India. After weeks at sea in a small boat, the men had lost hope and wanted to turn back. They were sick and starving. There was no assurance that any land would be ahead. No one, of their knowledge, had ever charted those waters before. Then one night they spotted a faint glow of light far away. Their hearts filled with hope and relief. Light did not mean just land, but people: a home, firelight, and food.

So too for those who contemplate Christmas and the meaning of light. A star shone above Jesus when he was born, signaling his arrival. Though a baby is wonderful, it wasn’t just a baby; the Light of the world had come.

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“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Revelation 21:22-27

 

For Advent devotions this year, we are using Pastor Tim Keller’s themes in his new book  Hidden Christmas

A Great Light

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

At age 23 I was in the darkness. I knew it. How could I know the maker of all things? I could never be good enough. Then the light broke into my life.  My Christian friends told me it had nothing to do with my acceptability and everything to do with my need.

I heard the living word. Jesus, the light of the world who through all things were made, and in him was life and that life was the light of men and of me. He made me acceptable by paying my debt I could never pay.

The sinful woman who spread perfume, tears and kisses on Jesus feet knew she wasn’t able to save herself. She had seen a great light. Her savior.

Did the Samaritan woman at the well after 5 husbands see the light shining in the world when Jesus told her that the water he gave her would become in her a spring of water welling up to eternal life?

The man who was born blind could see after years of darkness. Jesus healed him and he could see the light. Jesus asked if he believed in the son of man. He said he believed and worshiped Jesus. He recognized the true light of the world.

And when the end will come, Jesus will take those who need him more than themselves to their eternal home where there will be no more night. “They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” We have truly seen a great light and he is Jesus.
~J. Lovegren

We Can Be Lights

See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
 Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Isaiah 60.2-3
A few years ago, I had the pleasure to be on a backpacking trip to Yellow Aster Butte.  From our campsite, we could see across a valley toward Mt. Shuksan and to our right, Mt. Baker.  I was fortunate to get up early the next morning and sit on a rock looking across the valley and see the sun rise.  At first, just a sliver of the sun’s rays were able to peek their way over the mountains, but then the sun, shining in all it’s splendor, shone it’s rays into the valley, turning everything a brilliant pink and orange.

That is the first thing that popped into my head when I read over Isaiah 60.2-3.  The shady valley, like the earth, and the sun, like Christ, and the gospel, shining light into us, so that we might reflect that light to those around us.

Recently, I did a report on the persecution of Christians in Somalia.  Though they suffer bitter persecution, they are able to still shine the light in a dark place. Through Christ, and thanks be to God, we can be lights.
~Hans Tamminga (age 13)

Christ Comes to Bring Us Light

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
~John 12:46
The idea of light liberating the darkness comes up numerous times throughout the Bible, especially in the Beginning. It’s easy to forget how profound and amazing it is that Christ turns our personal darkness into light.
Reflecting on this verse, I remembered something that happened to me at college. Last year, my regular studying place was the floor lounge of the hall I lived on. However, for all of first semester, the overhead lights wouldn’t work, so the only lighting was a small lamp in the corner. We tried several times to get it fixed, but the maintenance guy could never figure out what was wrong. Then when I came back from Christmas break, I walked down to the lounge, and knew immediately something was different: the lights had finally been fixed.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful for light as I was that moment.  That’s how I should feel every moment.
It’s easy to take light for granted. But just as I was thankful for the return of light in the floor lounge, we must be thankful for the light Christ brings. He has taken us out of the darkness of sin, and brought us into His magnificent light, a light brighter than we could ever imagine.
~Lea Gibson