Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Little Town Of Bethlehem"1 (Lyrics)
Isaiah 9:2 – The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined. (NRSV)
It had been pouring rain all day. Undeterred, we piled into the car to make our way to downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to join my sisters and their families on the Karaoke Christmas Lights trolley bus tour. The traffic was heavy as we approached Lions Gate Bridge, which is not unusual on a typical day, but it was the holidays, so we were a bit surprised. Then we learned that there was only one lane open in each direction due to a "police incident". Usually, that is understood to mean that someone is attempting to take their own life by jumping off the bridge, and the police have blocked off the lane closest to the side that the person is on so that they can have some space to try to coax the person back over the railing and get them the help that they so desperately need.
The traffic inched along, and as we approached the southern bridge span, a police car was heading the other way with its lights flashing. There was no other evidence of any distress or trauma, so we were hopeful that the police had been successful and the person that they were trying to help was in the back of the police car on their way to get some help. Feeling sombre and subdued, we continued on our way, and soon, we boarded the Karaoke Christmas trolley bus.
We began our tour, singing our way past the city lights of downtown Vancouver, on a trolley bus festively decorated and equipped with a television and a karaoke machine. We had a list of songs that we could choose from, and passengers were encouraged to call out requests. We cycled through some secular standards with many on the bus joining in. After a little while, my nephew, who is five years old, called out, "O come, all ye faithful". Our host looked through her list of songs. "I'm sorry, we don't have that one. What else would you like?" My brother-in-law replied, "That's the only one he knows all the words to." He had practiced it over and over for his school Christmas production. Someone called out, "Let's do it anyway." So, without the benefit of any backing tracks or a screen with words to follow, the trolley bus was filled with people joyfully singing "O come, all ye faithful". It turns out that my nephew was not the only one who knew the words!
There are times when it feels like we are surrounded by darkness. So many people struggle in broken homes, get lost in the miasma of grief or depression, feel that there is no point in going on. And yet, there is a light that still shines. Perhaps, it's the light of a police car, spiriting someone to safety. Perhaps, it's the lit-up face of a little boy surrounded by people singing his favourite Christmas carol with him.
Jesus came to be the light of the world … for everyone. God promised the Israelites that light would shine on them again. All through the year, our challenge is to continue to carry that light to all who feel lost or forsaken, trusting that even if we feel small or unimportant, God will use us to bring joy to others.
Prayer: God, Your light shines eternally. Help us always to look for ways to be reflectors of Your light so that others may see it too. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.