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Genesis 1:1–5 (NIV)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Creation began in the dark.
But piercing the black void of nothingness,
God’s voice rings out,
Let there be light
Let there be day and night
Let there be earth and sky
Land and sea
Mountain and valley
And river and forest
Let there be life to fill it all
And then, the crown of creation,
Let there be humanity
Let them be in our image
Let them be the glory of God walking the earth
Let us be at one, in harmony, together.
And we answer,
Let there be pride
Let there be betrayal and rebellion
Let there be separation
Let there be sin and death and fall.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s a pretty depressing way to start the Christmas season. But, in truth, it’s the only way to start. This is how Advent orients us into the larger story. Refusing to let us run ahead, charging us to pause long enough to remember. We must begin by remembering our sin, our need for rescue, our desperate longing for a Savior.
Pastor and writer Fleming Rutledge reminds us, “Advent begins in the dark.”1
At the outset of this season of light we sink down into the darkness of exile, sense the looming shadow of death, long for the light like Israel of old. Like captives waiting for deliverance. Like runaways and rebels hoping for a return.
Wait and hope are the twin anthems of Advent. It’s interesting that in both Hebrew and Latin, the root word for “wait” can also be translated as “hope.” A reminder that we do not despair as we wait in the darkness. But we light a lone candle, the first flame of hope, pushing back the shadow one spark at a time.
Advent begins in the dark. But around the edges of the deep horizon, we see a faded gray creeping in. We hear a forgotten, yet familiar voice.
The people living in darkness
Have seen a great light.
Let there be light
Light of the world, make me a new creation in you.
What has darkness looked like for you? How did the light break through?
For the Awakening,
- This is an often-repeated theme in Fleming Rutledge’s collection of Advent sermons entitled Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2018).