The Word Became Flesh
A world in darkness
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. The light of the world stepped into the darkness.
Darkness is something we’re familiar with at this time of year isn’t it? Every year winter comes as a bit of a shock, nights draw in, and the warmth of the summer sun feels like a distant memory. And yet it’s not just physical darkness that we’re familiar with. There’s another kind of darkness at work in this world. The darkness that we see in the news – images of war and terrorism, refugees fleeing violence and poverty, overloaded boats capsizing, bodies of children washing up on beaches, corrupt governments, elections that don’t go the way that we want, diseases and natural disasters that sweep through communities destroying lives – so much pain that we want to turn off the tv, or scroll past the video on our Facebook feed, just to get away from the terror of it.
Or it might hit much, much closer to home. Not just things we see and which move us to anger, or sadness or frustration on behalf of others. Not just the darkness and pain on the screen, but the darkness and pain that comes through our front door and settles into our lives. It’s illness and death of people we love, parents divorcing, family members losing jobs, arguments that threaten or end relationships, friends who let us down, illness and pain in our own bodies, failed assignments or exams, loneliness, worry, fear.
This time of year can actually be one of the hardest to deal with.Although we mostly look forward to Christmas time, it is often tinged with sadness as well.
Perhaps Christmas causes you to remember family who won't be around this year. Or maybe it reminds you of unhappy memories of Christmas from childhood. Or maybe it's just the fact that although you're looking forward to it, you already know that it won't live up to expectations – you know that the turkey will be burned, or you won’t get the presents that you want, or the films on TV will be rubbish, or your mum and dad will have a Boxing Day row, or there won't be any more snow.
From the large-scale suffering, to our own minor disappointments and selfishness, we know that this world is a dark one.
But it's into this darkness that the light shines.
It’s this darkness that the Word steps into and becomes part of.
The light has come
Why would He do it? Why would the Light of the World step into the darkness? Why would the Word become flesh and make His dwelling among us?
Because this is how He makes Himself known. This is how He shows us what He is really like.
God isn't like Thor, or Zeus, or Superman. He has not come to make a flashy show of power – He's come to solve our biggest and deepest problem. He has come to break through the darkness and bring light. Not just the darkness of a cold winter's night but the darkness of our hearts. Because we recognise, I suppose, that the darkness and pain of the world is not something that is just ‘out there’ in the world, but also something that is ‘in here’.
The Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it like this:
‘If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?’
A certain hope
Jesus came as a baby to be like us, but to do it right. To live the lives that we cannot live, and to die the death that belongs to us.
If we were God, we would probably come with power and might and fame. He came as a nobody, weak and small and like us. He took on His shoulders all of the darkness of our hearts, and He died in our place. All in order that He might give us all of His goodness and rightness and perfection. His death for our dark hearts takes that darkness away.
What we celebrate at Christmas is the fact that He came into the world to bring light into the darkness, but also, we look forward to the fact that He is going to come again.
The darkness that we still know, and feel will come to an end. The winter will end. The morning will come.
That is one of the reasons why I love Christmas lights so much – because of the hope that they point towards.
It’s a hope that is certain.
A hope that we can grab onto.
A hope that offers relief from the pain.
A way out of the darkness, and a joy that is deeper and truer and more brilliant than anything else on offer.
This devotion was written by Ellie Cook, UCCF Staff Worker in the North East. You can find her on Twitter: @ellidh.
As the night draws in, the temperature drops, and the work piles up, this term can seem relentless to students, a long slog to get to the Christmas break. Yet it’s also seen countless unbelieving students searching for hope, coming into contact with CUs and beginning to read God’s Word.
One such student is Adam (name changed), a first-year student at Heriot Watt in Edinburgh. He went along to a CU lunchbar earlier in the term, where he spoke honestly about his search for purpose and curiosity about religion. He listened intently to the talk on, ‘Will God ruin my uni experience?’ and later came to a CU main meeting. Reflecting on what he’d heard, he commented, ‘There’s just something powerful about it.’
Edinburgh Staff Worker Emma says, ‘Moments like this are what the CU exist for: meeting people like Adam where they’re at and offering them the hope they are searching for that is only found in Jesus. The president of the CU is planning to meet with Adam to read through Mark’s Gospel together. Please pray for them!’
The opening session in our Uncover Mark Seeker Bible Study series explores this theme of searching for hope. Read through the discussion questions, and perhaps you could use them to start a conversation with a friend?
Students return home
Although it’s a joyful time, Christmas can also be a hard time for many. Perhaps that’s true for CU students this year. Some will be looking forward to going home, while others will return to a difficult home setting, financial or personal difficulties, or maybe just expectations that they know won’t be met by Christmas festivities, a holiday that leaves an empty feeling.
If you know CU students returning home for the break, could you share Ellie's devotional with them to remind them of the hope that Jesus brings?
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As many CU students look forward to Christmas, please join us in praying for them.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you shine into the darkness and make yourself known. Although this Christmas may be tinged with sadness, help us to worship you as the saviour of the world, to celebrate your birth and to give you the glory for the salvation that you bring. Please comfort all those who are lonely and weary and help them to cling on to the certain hope found in you.
In your name, Amen.