This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Rev. Amanda Golbek
FPCE minister of children and youth.
As I write this, we stand on the cusp of the longest night of the year. It is fitting that the longest night of the year leads us
into the last few days leading to Christmas Eve. These days are often filled with a mix of excitement, joy, stress, anxiety, sadness, grief, and longing. We have traveled so far in the days of Advent, deeper and deeper into the darkness that shrouds our world, and now we stand within reach of the gift of the light of Christ piercing through the darkness, casting a path forward into the everlasting redemption of the world.
As a child, Christmas Eve was my favorite time to go to church. The music, message, and liturgy leaned into the transcendent reality of God in a unique way that punctuated its contrast to the dark, cold, brokenness of the world. My grandmother and I would sit just a few rows from the front, and I couldn’t wait for the sanctuary to be thrust into darkness, with just the four Advent candles lit, casting a faint glow near the lectern.
Then the pastor would proclaim, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The Christ candle would be lit, and then, little by little, the darkness that had overtaken the sanctuary would be pushed back to the edges, as — one candle at a time — the light of Christ was shared. Much to my grandmother’s consternation, I would hold onto that candle hoping to keep the flame burning as long as possible, watching as the candle got shorter and shorter.
Eventually, of course, I would always have to blow out the candle and head out into the night. And it was always different going into the darkness after proclaiming Christ’s entrance into the world. I had seen the light transform the darkness, had seen how the light of one candle so small, so delicate, could grow and overtake the darkness. I had glimpsed Christ’s power in the world.
This Advent, we have been reflecting on how Christ is the light in our darkness. It can be hard to believe those words sometimes, to embrace the reality that Christ’s coming into the world sets in motion the transformation of all things, even darkness. During Advent, we often hear a lot of vaguely familiar words spoken and read many scriptures through various devotions. We encounter a myriad of creches “decorating” many front yards. It is easy to experience all these things as someone merely passing-by or as annual routines we go through the motions to check off a list.
Christ’s coming into the world is far from a passing event or something we check off a list every year.
This Saturday, we have two opportunities for you to embrace the coming of Christ, to walk into the depth of the darkness and see, tangibly — right in front of you, the first glimmer of the hope, peace, joy, and love of the world intercepting the darkness, casting light to all corners. I hope you will consider joining us to worship in-person or online as we wait and watch and welcome the newborn King!
Blessings in these final days of Advent!
Pastor Amanda Golbek
Minister of Children & Youth