The following is an excerpt from the free Advent devotional Darkness & Light; download your free copy today.
Midnight Light, part 1
by Meridith Matson
The Jewish holocaust during World War 2 is perhaps one of the darkest times in most recent history. The mass murder of over 6 million Jews and other persecuted demographics left a haunting mark over human history. Humans killing and dehumanizing other humans is truly the darkest darkness that exists. The images and films of those beaten in the streets, taken captive, and forced into concentration camps, and the bare, skeletal ghosts of those who were still alive in these camps at the end of the war are etched on our minds.
This chapter of history leaves a stain of darkness. A time of “midnight” when it seemed the sun may not ever shine again.
Yet, darkness is where the light shines through. In the darkest darkness, sparks of hope still existed. Etched on the wall of a cellar in a concentration camp, these words of an unknown prisoner were found:
“I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. And I believe in love, even when there’s no one there. And I believe in God, even when he is silent.”
Reflection: In what ways have you had to wrestle with belief versus reality in your own times of darkness?
As promised, our contemplative Advent devotional is ready now for download. Beginning Friday, December 1 through December 25, enjoy a reading and contemplative exercise each day.
“Silence & Sound Advent 2017 is our gift to you this Advent season. We hope that through this devotional, you are called to deeper understanding and fuller practice of the faith we share in Christ! We worked together across the world to compile these readings and thoughts as short daily readings with accompanying contemplations or actions you can pick up at any point in the day or integrate into your personal advent practice.”
“Silence and sound are two vital themes in the Old Testament. Although this pair are often discussed as opposites, we have placed them on a spectrum–silence can sound like many different things. From the beginning, we encounter the silence of the void into which the Creator speaks, a certain silence of good creation at peace as the Creator rests; but also the silence of Adam during the Temptation, the silence of Eve as she gives the serpent too much shrift, the silence of dread that must have filled their ears, knowing the Lord God would show up. Silence gives the foundational mythos of Scripture its cadence, while sound accompanies the interventions of the Creator. God speaks, and the world is created, and so the morning stars sing for joy. Prophets prophesy and kings decree; people cry out in repentance, and then praise.
“All the way through, silence and sound punctuate this holy history of the Old Testament. The silence of pain: from the uncomfortable silence between Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah to the deathly silences Esther endured to save her people. The sound of distress: the sound of Israelites groaning under their slavery, the repentant sound of Nineveh’s decree, and the reluctant sound of Jeremiah’s prophecies. The silence of blessing: from the stupefied silence as his brothers are reconciled to Joseph to the hushed silence as the ark of the covenant is placed in the Temple. The sound of victory: the sound of the Lord God cursing the serpent, the sound of the ram’s horn and warrior’s shout crumbling Jericho, the sound of Isaiah’s response “Here am I.”
“Beyond these guiding narratives, we find silence and sound woven through the lives and the faith of believers throughout history. Silence and sound can be sources of strength when we have trained ourselves to hear them. If we will attune our ears and attend to the message, we will hear the glory of God in the sounds and silences of life. The Advent season is a reminder to us of the power of waiting and listening as well speaking out. May the voice of the Lord guide your lives and faith!”
Bethany Stallings Charlotte Cline-Smith Meridith Matson Nathan Bingaman Scott Matson