“Treasures of Darkness” illustration by Gary Gaede

Advent Day 17 – Tuesday, December 18

This year’s Advent theme, “Treasures of Darkness,” took some time for me to process. My first reaction was, “Arg! This is gonna be a sad Advent with a penitential tone” (showing sorrow for my sins). I grew up in two churches, and one of them observed Advent in a very penitential style every year; the other was the opposite—“Joy to the World,” which is technically an Advent song, was their Advent theme every year. I loved the positive spirit that that congregation provided for Advent.

As I’ve pondered “Treasures of Darkness,” I’ve thought about my favorite and least favorite dark places and how both of them have helped me focus on God, our Ultimate Light. When I’m in northern Minnesota at our family lake place, I can be found almost every night at the fire pit on the beach. The bright stars, clean air, lack of city lights, and the moon’s reflection on the water are amazing. I feel a closeness and comfort that draws me to God, to look at the stars and the fire, listen to his voice, and talk to him.

At the other extreme, I also remember the intense darkness I’ve felt when family and friends died. My emotions ran the spectrum from hot to cold, I turned to intense exercise, then music, then eventually I became still. That’s when I was finally able to “be still and know” that God was and is always with me. I stayed in that “still” place for as long as I could and soaked up God’s love. I am convinced that I found a different kind of treasure with each of these experiences—at the lake and during times of loss.

One of the hymns we will use this Advent season expresses the idea of “Treasures of Darkness” in a beautiful way. The hymn is “Joyful Is the Dark,” with text by Brian Wren. This is the final verse:
Joyful is the dark, depth of love divine,
Roaring, looming thundercloud of glory;
Holy, haunting beauty, living, loving God,
Hallelujah! Sing and tell the story!

—Gene LeVasseur