Watching for the Light: The Beholder Wanting

A few autumns ago I found myself at the end of a bike ride with dusk approaching faster than I anticipated. Then I remembered that the clocks had been turned back several days earlier, and the days were growing dark sooner. I arrived back at my car and was lifting my bicycle onto the bike rack when a motorcycle coasted to a stop in the parking space behind me. Its powerful headlight lit up the whole area with bright intensity. As the rider dismounted and removed his helmet, I said to him, “I could use that headlight on my bike.” His reply gave me pause. He said, “They still don’t see me.”

On the way home, I thought to myself, How on earth could a driver not see that headlight? Then I recalled a verse from the Bible. “The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light . . .” (John 3:19). At first glance, it’s easy for me to assign such a behavior to really bad people; surely no one in their right mind would love darkness rather than light. And then I thought about all the ways we practice avoidance, rationalization, justification, small deceptions, and the like. We have developed rather sophisticated strategies for staying close to the shadows when it’s more convenient not to know, not to look, not to ask, not to tell. We would never call such behavior loving darkness rather than light—that’s too dim an assessment. Yet the truth is that honesty and transparency in day to day decisions and relationships can often be difficult.
And yet . . . something deep inside longs to behold this promised light of hope and love that comes at Christmas, and is even willing to risk illuminating the unsavory in us and our world for the possibility of living our lives in true joy and freedom within the grace-bearing brightness of God.

The opportunity for newly welcoming the light of Christ into our lives is drawing near at Christmas. We could even say it has already arrived in Advent. All that is needed to open ourselves to the gift is a clear eye and a willing heart. The poet Hopkins puts it invitingly: “These things, these things were here, and but the beholder wanting . . .” Then come, let us behold.

Grace and peace.

Rev. Paul L. Escamilla, Senior Pastor