…because I can't remember a year when more people have been in deer accidents…
Thankfully, no one's been hurt, but the frequency of these accidents makes it frightening to drive, particularly at night.
It's easy to think deer are dumb for running out in front of a speeding car-- but they're really doing what comes naturally to them. Living creatures are attracted to light. It's just a natural instinct. Life cannot endure darkness. Life is only found where there is light.Human beings are no different when it comes to our attraction to light.
That is why the streets of cities like New York and Las Vegas are lined with lights. The lights draw us into their retail stores and night clubs and casinos and theaters. We go to these places in hopes of "feeling alive..."We celebrate Christmas with lights for the same reason...
The lights of Christmas express our longing for life in a world so full of suffering and evil. Human existence was not meant to be the way in which we experience it. We weren't meant to feel pain and hurt each other; we weren't meant to suffer loss and die…We were meant for life—which is precisely the reason God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is light-- because he joins us to the very source of the life that is our Creator. We don't have to spend our lives stumbling around in the darkness looking for light; the light comes to us. He meets us within the darkness of our human existence; he gives us life in the midst of our suffering and pain.And the way in which God's gift of life is communicated to us is through God's Word. God is speaking to us... When we open God's Word; when we baptize; when we gather at the table; when we confess our sins-- Christ gives us life.
We will still experience darkness in our journey through this life; but the darkness cannot destroy us. Life is what we need, and life is what God gives to us. And very soon, the darkness will be no more.But there’s a problem: not all people recognize Jesus as the source of life. Many people simply don't know Jesus… These are like children who know their parents. There are also many who do not accept him. It's not that they are rejecting Jesus; they’re simply rejecting Jesus as the source of life-- and seeking life somewhere.
This is the heart of the problem for today's Christian. We know in our minds and in our hearts that life is found in Christ, but we want life on our terms. So we look to the world for the life we crave. We look for life in achieving our own greatness and the ability to be everything to everyone. We look for life in our relationships. We look for life in possessions. We take risks, seek thrills, we "get high"-- to feel alive...But when we look to the things of the world for life, the best we get is a temporary escape. Sometimes, the things we seek out as sources of life can plunge us into an even deeper darkness than we're already experiencing. At our worst, we're like the deer that run out into the roads in front of speeding cars. We run towards a light in search of life, but all we find devastation instead.
But Christ doesn't give up on the people he loves. Jesus finds us even in the darkness of our own making… There's no place we can wander off that's too far for him to come to us. God's forgiveness frees us from being forever trapped in the darkness of our bad decisions. God's amazing grace breaks our hard hearts. God's hope delivers us…The life that our bodies and souls hunger for so greatly comes from Jesus Christ and him alone. To be wise is to know this truth. The only way in which we can receive that life is through Word and sacrament. And knowing that we will still face times of darkness, we need to keep receiving Christ, to keep our faith in him steadfast and true.
If we believe that Jesus Christ is our savior and giver of the life we need, we are children of God. The gift of life is already ours; there's nothing we have to do to make ourselves worthy of it. But if we don't believe that, and we reject God's gracious gift by looking for life elsewhere, all we will find is darkness.In Jesus Christ is life, and the life is the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.