New York City’s 1977 blackout was a major power outage that left the city in darkness for 25 hours. Streetlights, fluorescent bulbs, and the bright neon signs of Times Square all went off that July night. The city, known for its 24/7 energy output that fuels constant hustle and bustle, was suddenly stripped of its vibrancy. However, the blackout did not prevent sin from running amok. Soon after all lights stopped, looters descended onto the streets. Many sought safety in their homes, while others smashed windows, created fires, and stole from businesses. Ironically, the darkness exposed the condition of the city at the time: its crime, corruption, and chaos.
While brokenness persisted through the night, reporters gathered in the newsroom at the New York Times offices. A big story like this needed immediate investigation, so the reporters got down to business. But how were they able to do so when the newsroom was pitch black? Well, they worked by candlelight. A picture taken during this period shows each New York Times employee writing under the flame of a candle. The light from those individual candles fused together to provide a sufficient working environment and allowed the reporters to proclaim the truth during such a troubling time.
Eventually, the power was restored, and New York City returned to its usual activity. But spiritual darkness was and is still a problem. In fact, spiritual darkness is a problem in every part of the world, as it refers to the sinful nature of humanity. We did not need a city-wide blackout to indulge in our destructive desires. We often acted on our rebellious hearts and rejected the Lord’s commands. We all joined the kingdom of darkness in its crime, corruption, and chaos.
Jesus brings light into darkness
But, fortunately, the Father did not leave us to run amok in the blackout of our souls. He sent the eternal Son to take on flesh and show us the light of God. In the gospel of John, which testifies that Jesus of Nazareth is this eternal Son, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Through His saving work, Jesus Christ rescued us. He defeated death and the kingdom of darkness. He forgave our crimes, freed us from our sinful natures, and gave us His Spirit. Through belief in Christ, we can experience life in God’s radiant presence for eternity.
How believers can bring truth to brokenness
Navigating a spiritually dark world, believers can bring truth to brokenness. Like the New York Times reporters who continued to work during the 1977 blackout, we can work by the light of God that resides within each believer. Our individual lights can fuse together to form a powerful display for the gospel. In the darkness, we can proclaim forgiveness and salvation through faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Through the Holy Spirit, we can show others that, though the night is long, the Son’s radiance will come in the morning.
Advent reminds us of the light of Jesus
A practice that points to the light of Jesus and proclaims truth in a dark world is the Advent candle lighting tradition. Advent refers to the four weeks leading to Christmas. It is a period that celebrates the first coming of Jesus and looks ahead to His second coming. Each week in the Advent calendar, Christians light one of the four Advent candles and reflect on the person and work of Jesus. The four candles of Advent represent hope, peace, joy, and love. Additionally, some worshippers may light a fifth candle that is white and represents the light of Jesus. Once that week’s candle is lit, believers then sing to the Lord, recite Scripture, or pray in response to the theme. We may also host meals and invite nonbelievers to discuss these themes with us. The Advent candle lighting tradition is important because it gives an opportunity to shine the truth of the gospel despite the surrounding darkness.
We at The Daily Grace Company® encourage you to display the glory of Jesus through candlelight this Advent season. Our 2022 Advent study walks with you through this tradition, providing Scripture reading, prayers, and biblical commentary perfectly suited for the individual as well as collective worship. You can find the full description and product link below:
This four-week study follows the Advent calendar and walks readers through the Advent candle lighting tradition. The four candles represent themes displayed in the first coming of Jesus Christ: hope, peace, joy, and love. Each week focuses on a candle and uses passages from Scripture to show how Jesus fulfilled its theme through His saving work. When we consider the birth of Christ, we might tend to forget the impact of His arrival. Through looking at an old tradition in a new way, this study will help us rediscover the wonder of Christ’s salvation. It will lead us to praise Jesus for giving us hope, peace, joy, and love in Him. Advent is a season of celebrating the coming of our Savior and preparing our hearts in anticipation of His return.
Jesus tells us to radiate the light of His salvation. During a sermon recorded in Matthew 5, Jesus said these words: “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are 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 in heaven” (Matthew 5:14—16). Because of Christ, we no longer belong to the darkness; now, we belong to the One whose light never dims. So let us celebrate this truth boldly, without fear, apathy, or embarrassment. And, through a candle’s single flame, let us give a glimpse of the brightness of heaven.
Barron, James. “45 Years Ago Tonight, a Blackout Struck New York City.” New York Today. The New York Times. July 13, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/13/nyregion/new-york-city-blackout.html.
McFadden, Robert D. “The ’77 Blackout: Writing by Candlelight.” City Room. The New York Times. July 10, 2007. https://archive.nytimes.com/cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/the-77-blackout-writing-by-candlelight/.