It was amazing what one fairly small light could do in that environment. The cave was filled with light. Security and calm came with it. A sense of hope! We could see the exit again, and the path through all the rocks and ravines in the way. Beyond just the hope of safe exit, it also revealed once again our community, and our director. Hearing is one thing (and a valuable thing), but seeing is something else. Light allows the faces of those near us to reassure us. It allows us to be calmed by the confidence of our leader. Eyes always go to the leader in moments of uncertainty.
The coming of Jesus, the Christ, has always been associated with light coming into the world. Many of our Christmas carols make reference to this. I have been hearing a lot of Carrie Underwood's version of "Do You Hear What I Hear" playing this Christmas. I think she does a great job with the song, which has helped me to really hear the words. It reminds me that the prelude to Christ's appearance was a star...a great light in the sky. This drew the attention of all, and led those seeking comfort and leadership to the savior. The external light God commanded to shine inspired the inner light of hope, and the feet followed that hope to the manger. There was found the leader God provided, the Christ of God, God's own son, who would provide "goodness and light" to our souls.
The world today often feels like a dark place. Much of our culture likes to emphasize the "dark side", mostly because of its dramatic effect, but sometimes in our entertainment venues the dark side is made to seem heroic. Given the very real evil that has presented itself boldly in recent times I would hope this trend would be reduced, but I'm not confident it will. My wife complains that the science fiction television shows that tend to draw my interest always have the "lights off" - the settings are rarely sunny! The mood they want is desperate - how else would it make sense for the need of a hero to arise? Still, the outlook for the future in these shows is gloomy, at best. Dystopian movies and shows own the stage. Too much darkness!
My wife and daughter and I went on a drive this Christmas Eve to look at the lights. We had a great time seeing the creativity and care many took to light up the their particular corner of the world and bring cheer and a sense of hope with the holiday. Often the displays were simple - a flood light on a manger scene. This is one tradition I am glad has maintained strong with Christmas - for both the religious and the secular. It is a time for light. As much as ever, the eyes of the world need a leader to look to - one who is known for goodness and light. Bring us hope, Lord!