Bishop Hughes says, "I want to invite you this Advent to think about where you need light, and also to think about where you are asked to witness to the light.... How can we share the light that we know? How do we share the hope that is within us, the hope of God's love and mercy and compassion that we know exist even in a world that is deeply, deeply fractured and troubled?" (Time: 4:20.)
This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark. And we are in the midst of Advent. I want to, at this time, invite you into something that I've been thinking about all through Advent. It is that sentence, at the very beginning of the Gospel according to John, which talks about, "In the beginning, there was the Word and the Word was in God and with God. And in that word was light. And the light came and overcame the darkness."
That one sentence captures so much about what we know of, what we've experienced of, what we see of Jesus, what we celebrate at Christmas, that light comes in and overcomes darkness. It is that time of year where the nights are longer, we're headed towards winter solstice on the 21st, which will be the longest night of the year. And depending on where you live, in my corner of the world, when I walk outside of the house at night, I take a flashlight with me. Because if I'm going for a walk, I've got to be able to see what is happening on the ground in front of me. Something that happens at one particular part of the sidewalk where it is pushed up a little bit during the day, I automatically am aware of it. But for some reason at night, I forget that spot is there. And unless I have a flashlight with me, I will trip over it every single time. It's as if I have no memory of it being there, when I am standing in the darkness.
And isn't this what happens to us when we cannot see sometimes, that we need that little bit of light to remind us often of what is already there – the things that we need to walk around or that we need to step over – to remind us that actually the landscape is perfectly fine. But it's when we can't see that we trip up over something.
I want to invite you this Advent to think about where you need light, and also to think about where you are asked to witness to the light. That passage in John goes on to talk about John the Baptist, and how he was not the light himself, but he was the witness to the light. He was the one who talked about where the lights had come. Our world continues in anxiety, in war and terrorism, in deep hurt and much mistrust. This is not people's imagination. It is the reality of the world that we live in. It is healthy to be slightly paranoid, so that one can be safe. And in the midst of this, we sometimes trip over things that we would see if we had light, or we watch someone else trip over something that they could see if they had light. So my question for us in this time of true difficulty, and being able to see where to take the next step, and being able to know what can be trusted, and being able to discern what is actually truth where we can let go of our worries and where we can have hope – my question for us is how can we be a witness to Christ's light? How can we share the light that we know? How do we share the hope that is within us, the hope of God's love and mercy and compassion that we know exist even in a world that is deeply, deeply fractured and troubled?
We have much preparation to do in these 13 days before the fourth Sunday of Advent, which is also Christmas Eve. And in that time as we continue to prepare. I ask you to hold on to that question: How can I be a witness to Christ's light in this particular time?