Silent Nights * Advent Devotional

Welcome to my friend Kristine Aragon-Bruce (hi, Kristine!). Kristine is a mom, a displaced West-Coaster, and a pastor in a PC(USA) church in Chicagoland. She has a killer sense 0f humor and writes from the heart. Enjoy her devotional! 

Isaiah 9:2 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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.

Although I’ve been a pastor for awhile, and even though I know it’s coming, I cry at every Christmas Eve service. I get choked up when everyone lights their candle, the lights in the sanctuary are turned down low, and we all begin to sing “Silent Night.”

This year it to be no different. Except it will be different, because my mom passed away a few months ago.

I can still hear my mom singing “Silent Night.” She didn’t sing a lot, but there was more than one occasion when she’d blurt out “All is calm, all is bright.” And I do mean blurt out. She wasn’t the greatest singer and I’d laugh at how out of key she sang.

It’s because of her that I cried at every Christmas Eve service since moving away. I felt guilty that I was so far away and couldn’t be with her or the rest of my family, even though working on every Christmas is part of the deal for a pastor and my mom understood this. Still I missed her.

God’s love as an inextinguishable light shining in the darkness is a prevalent motif in Scripture. I always think of a flame from a candle or small torch illuminating a cave so deep it’s hard to tell where the ceiling is. Even though it’s a tiny flame it’s just enough light to orient us to where we are and where our next step should be.

It doesn’t take much light to help keep us from stumbling.

I find it comforting to think of God’s love this way. It will never be conquered by darkness and even a glimpse of God’s love is enough to guide us through the darkness.

A small flame is all we need to not be overpowered.

The word “Advent” can be translated as “to come” or “arrival.” It gives the picture of someone excitingly pointing from their doorstep at a much anticipated guest who is in sight, but has yet to arrive. They’re still making their way down the road.

In Jesus Christ we know God has come and that he will return. We have therefore, as Isaiah states “seen a great light” in the midst of our dark, dark world.

Having lost my Mom I have a deeper understanding of what it means to “expectantly wait,” a phrase that tends to get thrown around during Advent and Lent. I really get it now.

I miss her and always will. But because of Jesus Christ my separation from her or from him isn’t forever. I can expect to see my Mom again one day and that gives me comfort in the midst of grieving her absence today. I am expectantly waiting to see her again.

Whatever darkness you may find yourself to be in, it can never be more powerful than the light of Christ’s love for you, for me, for all of us.

Even if you can just barely spot a flicker of God’s love through the darkness, he is present and his love is brighter and more powerful than what you can see in this moment.

In Christ we have hope. Hope that the darkness is never final. The darkness is there. It’s true. But the light of Christ is brighter.

And when he returns his light will be all that we can see and the darkness will be no more.

Where is the darkness in your life? How are you waiting for the light?

Kristine Aragon Bruce is an ordained PC(USA) pastor and resides in Wheaton, IL with her husband, Matt and their two children Phoebe and Jenson. This winter she intends to visit every indoor play space in Chicago Land with her kids for the sake of her family’s sanity and the structure of their house.

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