The Divine Light of God can never be extinguished. As it shattered the darkness of despair & hopelessness on that first Holy Night which we just journeyed through, so it continues to do so through all seasons. The Divine Light of God will always outshine the darkness of life & in that reality lies all hope. As we step into a New Year, living amidst the beauty & suffering of life, we find ourselves patiently or perhaps not so patiently, awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promise of His Light to lead the way, for we most assuredly know that God’s Light will illuminate our lives once again, right? As we await the coming of God’s Light in our own personal & global lives, we are pausing to remember & to celebrate another night that occurred 50 years ago on Christmas Eve when God’s Light shattered the darkness of fear & despair.
It occurred in 1968, when the world was in a season of deep darkness. Just as on that Holy Night in Bethlehem when the world was in chaos, ruled by injustice, discrimination, fear, & hopelessness, in 1968 the world was also in chaos, seemingly over taken by violence, hatred, & warring. It was difficult to see Light anywhere. To name just a few of the dark events of that season in 1968; at the start of that year, North Korea had seized the U.S.S. Pueblo, killing one sailor & holding the rest prisoners & one week later the Viet Cong had launched a massive military offensive that cost more than 35,000 lives on both sides. On the 95th day of that same year, Dr Martin Luther King was murdered, & on the 157th day of 1968 Senator Bobby Kennedy was murdered. On the 233rd day of 1968 Soviet army tanks crashed into Czechoslovakia & on the 241st day of that year the Democratic National Convention in Chicago descended into violence & demonstrations & riots on campuses & on the streets all over the country occurred. In that season it appeared that things were escalating out of control & there seemed to be no hope of reconciliation, no peace, & no end to the violence & hatred. There was little joy anywhere to be found. It was a dark season to say the least.
It was into that season of violence & the darkness that the 3 member crew of astronauts from the US Space program were launched into space, venturing to the moon. The launch happened three days before Christmas Eve. As they ventured out to the moon to be the first human beings to reach the moon & orbit our closest celestial neighbor, it could have seemed as if they were trying to get away from the darkness on the earth at that time, perhaps to find some hope, in a successful futuristic space mission although it was not purposely planned that way. What occurred on that space mission could never have been predicted but it did open the door of darkness & let in the Light, changing a world in darkness into a world of new hope & Light. On Christmas Eve, during their eighth of ten orbits around the moon with communication flowing between earth’s space station & the space ship, as the moon orbited the earth, moving in the physical light of the sun, suddenly & unexpectedly the space ship entered into total darkness as it moved into the shadow side of the moon. At that moment, all communication broke off between the space ship & the space station on earth. In the total darkness & total silence, for thirteen minutes the world held its breath & fear & hopelessness took over. No one on earth knew what had happened to the space ship & the three astronauts; whether they were alive or not & the astronauts did not know whether they would ever regain communication & return to earth or not. After 13 minutes of total darkness & silence, gradually, glimpses of light began to light up the heavens. As the space ship continued its orbit, it gradually moved out of the darkness of the shadow & into the light once again & communication was restored. As the light re-appeared, as hope was restored & fear dispelled, out of the silence of the spacecraft now once again in the Light, astronaut Bill Anders began to read the Creation story to the waiting world saying; “In the Beginning God created the heaven & the earth.”. And then the other crew mates, passing the Bible around, took turns reading further verses from the Bible; verses of renewal & hope during a year of darkness & loss. As the shepherds who were led by Divine Light on the first Holy night proclaimed God’s Glory, so too 50 years ago, on Christmas Eve, the world in darkness proclaimed collective JOY in the gift of the LIGHT that illuminated HOPE for a broken world.
God is always with us, a shining Light to guide us. A Light that can never be extinguished. God provided a Light that illuminated a path then & He is providing a Light now. He has promised to be a guiding Light for us in the future. May we all resolve to follow the Divine Light given, dispelling the darkness & ushering in a season of HOPE for this New Year.
~By Rev Kathryn Bindig MDiv. MS; Spiritual Consultant with assistance from Rich Muscatello; Director of Business Development & Strategy
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