I have so much respect for the thousands of people who work through the night while others sleep. Many of these women and men have important jobs, and they can regularly accomplish what I find so difficult: staying awake at night. I am so dependent on sleep that as soon as night falls, my eyelids start getting heavy, which makes staying awake pretty difficult; especially since we turned our clocks back an hour in November. This habit of mine only increases the admiration I have for all those who can fight their body’s instinctive desires to work second or third shift jobs.

Many people share my respect for this group of workers, but this nonstop, round-the-clock working schedule is a modern phenomenon, present most often in developed economies. The agrarian economy that has defined human existence until the past two hundred years could not operate in the dark. But once the lights could come on in factories, on streets and in homes, work changed. Having machines sit idle for half of every day made little sense when you could recreate the same working environment 24 hours a day, and productivity drove employers to change their hiring and management practices to literally work in the darkness.

As we continue through Advent, exploring the theme, “Chasing Light,” we remember our calling to be light in dark places, a theme found throughout John’s Gospel and letters. We carry Christ’s light, for he first permeated the darkness of our world with his light of goodness, love, mercy and righteousness. To be clear, the light we carry does not make us better than those without the light; we have the responsibility to share the gift that we have already received and allow people in darkness to see who they truly are as God’s children.

This light-sharing is good news, not only because it allows us to more fully live the way God intended, but also because there are no limitations on light. Light and darkness can both be everywhere, but darkness only exists when light is absent. You can carry Christ’s light to your home, your job or anywhere you might be. This universal mission to carry the light fuels my job at Floris UMC with the Wesley Fellows Program. As we continue developing our program, we explore how we can best equip young women and men to carry Christ’s light wherever they are, even (and maybe especially) when they aren’t working in a church or other “official” ministry setting.

We join the Magi this Advent in chasing Christ’s light to discover truth. Where are the dark places in your life, your workplace, your home or your community where Christ’s light can shine the brightest?

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