Tomorrow begins the season of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas when we prepare to celebrate Christ being born into our world! Advent is a time of spiritual reflection as we anticipate the coming of Christ. To guide and deepen our reflections in this season, we will explore What’s Left of the Night?, a devotional from the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group that “responds to a yearning for a new day with the reminder that people need night’s renewal for rest, for imagination, even for growth” (Source: UCC). Beginning tomorrow, there will be a short devotional posted from What’s Left of the Night? each day through Christmastide!

Introduction — Night Bloom KENNETH L. SAMUEL “Watchman, how much longer until morning? When will the night be over?” – Isaiah 21:11 (NLT) Darkness suffers from bad PR. Images of fresh vitality and renewed vigor come with the morning light, while the night con- jures voids of cheerful animation. No wonder so much of our lives are placed on dismal pause until the darkness we face is dissipated by the brilliance of our long-awaited day breaks. But an attentive sentinel of the night can see that darkness harbors much more life and renewal than many may presume. Certain species of plants and animals only come to life during the nocturnal hours. Emerging from a greenish white stem, the Nicotiana plant displays delicate petals that adorn its space with bright pops of pink. But to behold the fullness of its beauty, we must brave the darkness, because Nicotiana only blooms at night, when its sweet fragrance is also at its peak. Night bloomers bloom at night because their pollinators are only active when the sun goes down. Life happens in the dark. Seeds of insight are planted when daylight disappears. Petals of new possibility open themselves when most of the world around them is fast asleep. The life-sustaining power of pollination is not restricted by the absence of light. The power of God is revealed in the wilderness. Human community is strengthened through struggle. Visions come to light in the dark. Hope blossoms when the morning star is not seen. All of us who yearn for brighter days could benefit from a more cognizant appreciation of how life is sustained and renewed and fortified in the dark. And on the next sunny day we bite into a mango or an apple, let us remember that the seed of that fruit could very well have been produced in the darkness of the night. PRAYER Lord, when we cannot see light, show us the light of your presence. Amen.

Image Source: “What’s Left of the Night?” | 2022 Advent-Christmastide Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.

About the Writer:
KENNETH L. SAMUEL is Pastor of Victory for the World Church (UCC) in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He is the author of Solomon’s Success: Four Essential Keys to Leadership.