December 20, 2022, Christmas Light
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3, 16)
do you have a favorite Christmas song? I have rediscovered an old carol. Ever since I was reading about who wrote it and under what circumstances it came into being, I started to love it, whenever I sing it. It is the German Christmas carol "Dies ist die Nacht, da mir erschienen des großen Gottes Freundlichkeit" (Transl.: This is the night when the kindness of the great God appeared to me).
It was written by the Lutheran pastor Kaspar Friedrich Nachtenhoefer. He was the son of a pastor and lived through the Thirty Years' War, which raged in Europe from 1618 to 1648. A brutal and bloody war between Protestants and Catholics. As a young man, Kaspar Friedrich became a pastor himself and married. At the birth of his third child his wife died and the newborn with her as well. It was the beginning of many tragedies.
His parish took care of him and found a wife for him and his children. But this wife, Mary Elizabeth, also died seven years later. Again, he had to stand in front of an open grave.
This man had to suffer a lot. In a story about him, I was reading that at some point he doubted God, almost despaired. He did not doubt God's existence, but his love. He is reported to have had hardly the strength left to prepare a sermon for Christmas Eve of the year 1684. The sermon text was the word from John 3:16: " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
During this night before Christmas Eve, the miracle happened. This word of God rekindled in him the light of faith. He understood that God loved this evil and desolate world so much that He sent His Son Jesus into this world to save it. To redeem this world from the curse of death. At Christmas, God, in person of his Son Jesus, steps into a world full of fear, misery and death. Jesus also came into his own personal world. The Lord came into his life so filled with suffering, sorrow, and pain. Jesus Christ brought light again into his world´s darkness.
This Christmas carol was written in 1684, by Kaspar Friedrich Nachtenhoefer, just one year before he died himself. He left a song to us, that has since given comfort and new hope to countless people:
(1) This is the night when the great God's kindness appeared to me;
the child, whom all angels serve, brings light into my darkness,
and this world and sky light does not give way to a hundred thousand suns.
(4) Therefore Jesus, most beautiful Christmas sun, illuminate me with your favor;
let your light be my Christmas delight and teach me the Christmas art,
how I shall walk in the light, and be full of Christmas radiance.
I wish for you that this Christmas radiance may fill your heart. If you must suffer from heavy burdens right now and your doubts about God's love look deep, may God's kindness touch you all over again. And I do wish for you, I wish for all of us, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world, will make this dark world bright again. May his glory will shine over all of us, like the rising sun after a dark night. So that you may be filled with comfort and new hope!