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Minister’s Message: Witnessing light

When the nights are longest, when the darkness is deepest, into our midst steps Jesus

God knows there’s no shortage of physical or figurative darkness plaguing our world these days. We don’t have to search far for the statistics of evil that doom-scroll across our social media feeds. Too many of us know what it’s like to be overwhelmed by personal or collective fear to the point that getting out of bed some mornings might as well be climbing Mt. Everest. Darkness is everywhere. And it’s relentlessly oppressive.

How appropriate, then, that we celebrate the birth of Jesus in the bleakest part of mid-winter. When the nights are longest, when the darkness is deepest, into our midst steps Jesus, whom the author of John’s Gospel names “the light of all people” (1:4). Right when we need it the most, “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (1:9) comes into the world.

But you know as well as I do that it’s not always easy to see the light, even when he does stand in our midst. That’s why the Gospel of John speaks about a man named John the Baptist whose sole purpose on this earth gets summed up with the words, “he came to testify to the light” (1:8). I love the clarity and undivided nature of John’s identity and purpose here. He bears witness to the light. He points to Jesus at every moment, drawing people’s attention to the light that darkness cannot overcome (1:5). That’s it. That’s his goal. And because he lived out his mission faithfully, people like you and me now have the opportunity to experience the warmth and radiance of Jesus’ tenacious light.

Encountering John the Baptist in this winter season has me wondering about my own reason for being in the world during this moment of history. I suppose I could say that my life’s purpose is about securing comfort and wealth for myself and my family. It could be that I’m here to beproductive, as I define it. Or maybe I’m simply here to revel in every pleasure I can before my time is up. Truth be told, though, I’m not compelled by these options. Life started way before I got here, so what makes me think that ultimate meaning has anything to do with me?

In John the Baptist, I see a man given to something more, something worthwhile. He had the humility and courage to live for someone other than himself. He knew that in Jesus there is life, and by bearing witness to that life, Jesus’ light would shine in and through him (1:4). I think John would say that’s really the only thing worth his breath, and that’s why he spends all his lung’s efforts testifying to the One worth talking about. This season, I’m compelled by John. In a society mired in darkness, spending my days pointing to Jesus the light is, I believe, a life well lived. So no matter what name darkness might take in your life, may you know Jesus, the light come into the world.

Joshua Gorenflo and his wife, Kya, are ministers at Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 on the Kenai Spur Highway. Worship is 11 a.m. on Sundays. Streamed live at kenaifellowship.com.

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