As we enter the Season of Advent tomorrow, we’re going to be looking at the idea of Light in my sermon, “A Light in the Darkness.” This is the first in our Advent series A Real Christmas, in which we are keeping in mind some of the all-time favorite Christmas movies and how they pick up on some of the important themes of these sacred seasons of Advent and Christmas.
In the first chapter of John, we find many references to this new light that was about to enter a very dark world: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” This is light that dispels darkness. It may be the personal darkness of disillusionment—such as we see in Doris, the cynical, hard-working, single and jaded young mother of Miracle on 34th Street. It may be darkness on a much larger scale—the kind of darkness the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”
As we begin our Advent journey and our thematic comparison of reel Christmas stories with the Real Christmas Story, I think Miracle on 34th Street is a great place to begin. It is we can see how the light of hope emerges at times when logic, past experience and “common sense” may caution doubt. Looking at this idea through the eyes of Doris’s young daughter, the old man working as a department store Santa, and a young man deeply in love and willing to take a big risk, we begin to see their light of hope emerge on screen. For those to whom Isaiah was speaking, however, the light symbolized hope that God could enter into their dark and gloomy and oppressive world with earth shattering Good News.
Digging a little deeper, we find that the image of light is everywhere in scripture. In the New Testament, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world” and to his followers, he says, “You are the light of the world” and he even calls us to “Let your light so shine that others would see your good works. . . .” And, going back to the Real Christmas Story, Luke echoes this reference to light in the prophetic words of John the Baptist’s father Zechariah, speaking of the coming birth of Jesus: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
I invite you to think about the other symbols of light we find at Christmastime: lights on our Christmas trees, candles in our windows, and using stars to top our trees and as ornaments. Even the sparkling tinsel we may add as a finishing touch is a reminder to reflect the light of hope during this season of Advent. This Advent season, as we turn our attention to the idea of light, let’s look at these symbols we see all around us with fresh eyes, remembering that, contrary to evidence we may see in the world around us, God’s goodness and love does prevail. God’s light still has the power to penetrate and enlighten the dark places of the human heart and the dark places of this world.
As we link a few ideas from the classic movie, Miracle on 34th Street with the symbolism of light we find in the first chapter of John, we see that in both stories, there’s much more to this light than meets the eye. I look forward to beginning this season with you as we explore and celebrate the Light we expect to enter our own lives during this very special time of year.
Grace and Peace,