In the middle of the night. After all this quiet. Four HUNDRED years of silence. Four hundred years of waiting, wanting, watching and wondering – will He ever come? Will God’s promise ever arrive? Will the words He had spoken to our people through prophets so long ago ever see their fruition? Or do we wait in vain? Do we long for something and someone who will never come? Has the darkness that overwhelms us now become not only our present, but our future as well? Has God in fact, forgotten us?
These are the questions God’s people asked some two thousand years ago. Scattered across foreign lands, living amongst those who taxed them not only financially but emotionally and spiritually as well. Gone seemed the days of the promised land much less the hope of the actual promised One. God’s children were wading, perhaps even drowning in a sea of turmoil and tumultuousness – in a world defined more than ever by human efforts and energy. God has gone silent, for four HUNDRED years God has been, gone. His children left alone – in the middle of the night.
In the middle of the night. After all this quiet. An angel appears to a priest – and promises are made. A son will be born. He will bear in him the presence of God. He will turn the hearts of God’s children back to Him, and the hearts of many fathers back to their children. He will prepare the way, the way for the coming of the Lord – the One – who will come – in the middle of the night.
In the middle of the night. An angel appears to God’s chosen servant. Do not be afraid! You have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb, and bear a Son – THE Son – Son of the Most High God. He will be called Immanuel – for with us is God – and with Him nothing is impossible. And He shall reign forever and ever – and of His kingdom there will be no end. The promise of God, for the people of God, in the middle of the night.
And then, in the middle of the night, a light! From the womb of a virgin in the city of David, appears a light from which darkness will never recover. A light that illuminates not just the night sky and fields where shepherds watch over their flocks by night, but the very hearts of men. A blinding light accompanied by a great multitude of heavenly bodies, all proclaiming together as if with one voice, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased. A light that shines so brightly as to eliminate the fear and doubts of men, and causes them to instead seek and find the One who created them, the One who will show them love, and the One who will lead them back to God – from the middle of their plight.
His light – in the middle of that night – changed everything. Oh death, where is your sting? Oh, hell, where is your victory? Oh, sons and daughters of God come stand in His light – the glory of God has defeated the night.
But perhaps, the light has faded?
In the middle of the night – that is where we seem to often find ourselves. Lost and afraid, depressed and confused – like blind men wandering in a crowded room trying desperately to find an escape. The cold and harsh realities of life have consumed us, swallowed us up whole, and that light from a night so many HUNDREDS of years ago, seems at times, all but extinguished. And all their is, is quiet.
Silence can be deafening when all we yearn for is to hear the voice of someone calling us home. We are the voice of one crying in the wilderness now, a wilderness that is full of paths that are not straight, and paths that do not lead where we once thought they might. We have stumbled our way into a place where hope is fading, joy is fleeting, peace is forgone and love is forgotten. We are calling and crying out, pleading for someone or something to appear like a star in the night sky, and bring us back to a plan that proves productive, our purpose and our promise, and the place where we belong. It is low, we feel alone, and God seems quiet – in the middle of our night.
But then, a light. Maybe in the eyes of a baby, the hug of a friend, or a kiss from your mother. Perhaps from the works of your neighbor or the prayers of a stranger. It might even come from forgiveness from one who owed you no favor. But no matter the source, the sight is undeniable. There, in the life of someone else, comes the familiar light of the One from that night so many years ago. Silence and darkness seem to fade, fear and failure make way for faith, and death gives way to dreams. All because, through them, His light still shines.
And so we will go out with joy and be led forth in peace, mountains and hills will break forth before us into singing, and the trees of the fields will once again clap their hands – because in the middle of our mess, and in the middle of our chest – lives the King of Kings. In us, His light, the light by which all things were made and the whole earth is upheld, in us THAT light lives and radiates. It erases sin and eradicates shame. It cleanses stains and covers pain. It has for centuries been breaking down walls and replacing them with bridges. Bringing together even the most unlikely of partners, all for the glory of – and through the grace bestowed on us by, one tiny child – in the middle of the night, after all that quiet.
Jesus. God with us. Jesus Christ, our light, has come and every mess we’ve made has been undone. Love has indeed won. A world once cloaked and overcome with darkness, now feels and sees the light. His light. Through us His light, for everyone, still shines. It is growing you. It is changing me. Jesus. God with us. His is the light that will shine eternal. It is shining even now – in the middle of the night.