A light shines in the night

Pastoral Messages | December 16, 2021

I inherited a beautiful metal Advent wreath from my grandparents. Inscribed in colorful block letters around the candles are the words: “a Light shines in the night.” Every night, as our family sits down for dinner, we light a candle for each week of Advent, and sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” 

My children love to light the candles but they’re not yet ready to strike the match. So, each night I light a match and then very carefully pass the tiny piece of burning wood to them. My wiggly and energetic children are still and quiet, watching, and ready to receive the little match with care. With such intention, they take it, avoiding getting their little fingers close to the flame. And then, with wonder and gentleness, they light the candles. 

It’s a simple and holy moment, sandwiched right in between debates about how many bites of peas are necessary before dessert, and updates on the happenings of their elementary school classrooms. But we pause every night, to remember those words imprinted on the wreath, “a light shines in the night.” This deeply sacred moment of intention and hope has come to symbolize who I want to be, not just as a parent, but as a person of faith in these Advent days. We are made to be light-bearers and light-sharers. 

It is a shadowy and dreary world out there. There’s so much death and all its derivatives – fear and hatred, despair and violence. But Advent is this time when we honestly acknowledge that darkness, and then strike a match, daring to believe, “a light shines in this darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it” (John 1:5). 

As people of faith, we nurture that spark when we trust that the power of Love persists through all things, and then we share it. We take the tiny flame of hope and pass it on, to our kids, our neighbors, some stranger at the store. We share that light through our acts of generosity, in moments of kindness, in human connections, in seeing the best in people, and so much more. Like passing a match across a table, it takes some intention, looking people in the eye and pausing between our rushing here and there. And this intention is just how the darkness is transformed. It’s amazing how bright a place becomes when the spark of just one light multiplies. 

This is our hope: a Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

-Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

2 Comments on “A light shines in the night”


    December 19, 2021 at 8:47 am

    Thank you so much Pastor Sara, for reminding me that I can make a difference. For reminding me to act with intention and to slow down and stop spinning. To be the light.

  • Sheila Mesick

    December 16, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    I have enjoyed hearing your family advent story, visualizing little ones taking the wooden matchstick lighting the candle, sitting together in the candle’s glow. Sara thank you for being a light in the darkness of isolation this past pandemic year, it has made a difference to me. Merry Christmas!

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