Light into darkness

Robin Fairbairn

18.12.2021 | Mission in Ireland, Farming & Rural Life, Christmas

The long dark days of winter in the run up to Christmas will begin to get shorter and brighter from Tuesday, after the shortest day. But as Robin Fairbairn writes, this season of darkness is brightened during December by the appearance of twinkling lights in homes and in towns and villages up and down the land. But they can never be as bright and welcoming as the One we celebrate at Christmas and who said of Himself, “I am the light of the world.”

‘The dark days before Christmas’ is a phrase you are perhaps familiar with? I know that in my visits to some folks they often lament the changing of the clocks, and the long dark nights that follow, with the 'big light’ on from four in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember the late ‘60s early ‘70s and the experiment which saw no change to the clocks. Walking to our small rural primary school along a main road, we had to wear bright reflective armbands for our safety.

Working in the dark

As dusk settles earlier now, and nights continue to draw in for a while yet, the dark makes any task like doing the redding up a little tougher, especially for our part-time farmers who’ve done a day’s work already.

However, this season of darkness is brightened during December, and sometimes earlier, by the appearance of lights. Bright colourful twinkling lights on Christmas trees and lights that decorate our villages and towns, all help to brighten these dark winter days. The lights are a reminder that Christmas is fast approaching.

Matthew in his gospel quotes words spoken by the prophet Isaiah many hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus that speak of ‘light’. “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

The world into which Jesus was born was indeed a dark place full of injustice, suffering, violence and oppression. Then, as now, many people have tried to fix the darkness by different means, yet Isaiah tells us that the light we need is not produced by our own efforts, it is a light that has ‘dawned’. Like the literal light of the sun, it’s a gift from God, so into this world of darkness God gifts us a new light. John in his gospel puts it like this, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John1:9).

The Light of the world who brings life

In another verse, Isaiah says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…” (9:6.) Into this dark world God has given the gift of light in the person of Jesus, who said of Himself, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and as with all gifts, to know the benefit of them they must be received.

John also speaks of the blessing that we receive when we accept God’s gift personally “…to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). God’s gift to a dark world was to give Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus. A gift we must be willing to receive and when we do the Bible speaks of a wonderful transformation that takes place, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

As we wend our way to Christmas Day, remember what the angels told the shepherds, “‘…Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you, He is the Messiah the Lord…’” (Luke 2:11). In Bethlehem, they found Jesus, God’s precious gift to the world. Have you found Him and accepted Him?

Robin Fairbairn is pastor/evangelist with Ballygowan Presbyterian Church in County Down and also works as ministry development officer with The Good Book Company. He lives in the country and has been farming every Saturday for more years than he cares to admit.

His blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.

You can look at other blogs in this series here.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at or call him on 07938 488 372.

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