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This is the first part in a twelve part devotional commentary on “O Holy Night.” See the introduction here.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,

It is the night of Our dear Saviour’s birth.

The first two lines of the song provide a context for what’s to follow. It’s important that we know our Savior came in the night as the night relates to the darkness of the world. Darkness is, of course, a common metaphor for the evil of the world. Jesus is often referred to as the light.

Emphasis on Jesus as light contrasted to the darkness occurs right at the beginning of the gospel according to John:

1:4-5 “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

1:9 “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

Similarly, in 1 John we are told that God is light:

1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

And in Revelation, though the word “light” isn’t present, we find the same idea:

Rev. 1:12-16: “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long rode and a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as the snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in the furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.”

Whether “the stars are brightly shining” refers to angels or the actual celestial bodies, it appears to be a proclamation of celebration. There is much joy to be had in the coming of light into our dark world.

Indeed, only the light of Jesus can save us in this blinding darkness of night. Left to ourselves, we have eyes but cannot see. Only the light of Jesus can make us see the world as it really is. And this light has come.

But we cannot leave it at that. Jesus says in Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

We are right to celebrate with the very stars the coming of the light into darkness, but we must also recognize our responsibility, now that He has given us sight, to live in the light and He is in the light. We who follow Him are now the light of the world and are called live in such a way as to reflect His light into the world around us.

More on: Christmas, Music

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