By Casey Cross
Young Disciples Director of Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID and member of the Messy Church USA Board of Directors
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1: 5
I’ve been finding myself taking a lot of night walks lately. Many people would think that’s crazy, especially with the weather in Idaho as cold as it’s been. I will admit, by the time I get to the end of my walk I am really looking forward to entering my warm house. But there is a bit of magic that happens on these night walks, a quickening in my spirit. When I look up at the clear, dark sky and let my eyes adjust, I realize things aren’t as dark as I initially thought. In fact, the stars seem to shine clearer and brighter than usual.
Maybe that’s the key? Doing something that isn’t just, “the usual.” When we put ourselves out there, sometimes even literally out there taking a night walk, we see things from a different perspective. When we try something that others would call unusual, we connect with ourselves in a new way, there is a quickening in our spirit that makes us feel more alive.
Darkness has a way of closing in on us, making us feel like darkness is all there is. It can be suffocating, scary, and empty. Darkness can feel big and all encompassing. Yet, there is hope in the stars. When I’m in an especially dark place in my walk all I need to do is look up. If I see even just one star, I am reminded where the true power lies. The real power is not in the enormity of darkness, but the clarity of a single fleck of light. Despite distance and the passage of time, this little light meets me where I stand. This little light is all I need to find my way through the darkness and to know I’m not alone.
This is the miracle of Advent, that in our darkest days of the year, in the most common moments of life, God shows up.The real power is not in the enormity of darkness, but the clarity of a single fleck of light.
So, maybe this is the key? I am constantly amazed by the wondrous gifts of God’s grace that surround us, especially in those things that seem most mundane in our daily lives. This is the miracle of Advent, that in our darkest days of the year, in the most common moments of life, God shows up.
In order for transformation, both of these keys are needed. We need to put ourselves out there so that we can see what God is doing in the most simple of things. In these intersecting moments, we meet God in a new way and we are changed. It can feel like such a miracle that we cannot help but share it with others.
This is what I see when families try Messy Church for the first time. They hesitantly walk in, unsure of what to expect from this new thing, uncomfortable. By the end of our celebration time together, they are completely different people. Alive! Awake! Connected to the stories of God’s love for us in a real, tangible way. We move to our meal together, eating casseroles, sitting next to our new family members, and expectantly looking ahead to our next gathering together.
Like the stars, we can live as points of light in the darkness, shining, as a reminder that the darkness has not, does not, and will not overcome. God with us, Emmanuel.