Tag Archives: Christmas lights

A Great Light

For those of you living in Boston, today you will experience the earliest sunset of the year (4:11:38pm).  This is both good news and bad news, since the length of your daylight will continue to decrease until December 20.  Astronomically, we could say that these are dark days: for the next month, we will experience nearly 15 hours of ‘night’.  Metaphorically, we can also say that these are dark days: everyday, through every media source, we witness incidences marked by a lack of direction, a lack of warmth or a lack of morality. 

The Bible has much to say about darkness.  It was the penultimate plague that was inflicted upon Egypt (Exodus 10:21).  It is the dwelling place of God, as witnessed by Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:11), by Solomon in the temple (1 Kings 8:12) and through the psalmist (Psalm 97:2).  It was what overshadowed the cross of Christ for three hours during His crucifixion.  It is the place of chaos (Genesis 1:2), temptation (Ephesians 5:11), ignorance (Matthew 6:23) and death (Job 10:21).  It is the place of sinful desires (John 3:19) and the place without light (Acts 2:20) – lifeless, cold and confusing.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.   Isaiah 9:2

It seems that every day another man in authority is accused of harassment or abuse.  It seems that every week there is another account of mass violence.  The fact is that every moment is filled with an immoral act (a lie, a theft, an assault or an infidelity) somewhere in the world.  There is no shortage of crimes suitable for the local and national news outlets, and those reported on at 6 and 11 are just the tip of the iceberg of what Robert Burns wrote as “man’s inhumanity to man”.   We are people walking in darkness, shivering and stumbling in sin.

But in that darkness a light has dawned.  This is not the flicker of a candle or a 100-watt lightbulb; it is more than the flashlight on your smartphone or a lighthouse on the coast.  It is a great light, like the sun; it is the light of the world, which the Gospel of John tells us is the light of life.  This light is Jesus, who has entered the darkness and overcome it.  He is the source of life, purpose and power.  He has destroyed the secrecy of temptation, the strangeness of confusion and the sting of death.  Because of Christmas, the light has overwhelmed the darkness.

I hope that you delight in all the lights of Christmas – those on the trees, in candleholders, woven into sweaters, at church, on lawns and in the sky – and rejoice that the light of the world, the great light, has come into our world and has illumined our darkness.  Perhaps this truth will enable us all to focus on the joy of this light and, perhaps, seek the goodwill of all those who walk with us during these dark days.

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A Light Break

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.    Isaiah 9:2

One of the blessings of our new neighborhood is that the house three doors away covers his front yard with a Christmas light display.  We had seen the lights in prior years as we drove by, but now we can stand on the sidewalk while enjoying the details: a reindeer that moves its head, “Merry Christmas” written on the fence, a flying angel and more.  It is quite a spectacle to behold.  There must be a thousand lights on their yard, smack dab in the middle of the urban landscape.  It shines bright through the community.img_1281

Christmas lights like these remind me of the prophet Isaiah’s words, that one day in the future a great light will dawn in the land of deep darkness.  One day, God inspired Isaiah to record, the darkness — the muck of gloom and distress that we all are mired within – will be overwhelmed and overcome.  Just as it was when Isaiah wrote to the people of his day, we, too, witness the same distress and gloom today in the faces of those seeking refuge on foreign soil, those oppressed by human systems, those who are poor and those who have lost hope.  There is a great darkness that requires a great light.  Christmas lights remind me that Jesus is that great light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”     John 8:12

Jesus told the people of His day – and beyond, through the testimony of the Scriptures – that He was the one who would conquer the distress and gloom of creation.  In time, His followers would realize that He is the one who reigns victorious over sin, Satan and death; the things that caused hopelessness in the human heart have been vanquished by the appearing of Jesus, the promised light.  Just as flipping a light switch in a darkened room immediately dispels the darkness, Jesus, at the moment of His arrival, dispelled all the darkness we were dealing with.  Then, Jesus gave us that light to share with others.

[Jesus said,] “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

He called us, His followers, the light of the world.  He commissioned us, His brothers and sisters in faith, to continue to shine in the darkness.  He equipped us, His body, to bear witness to those who are without hope in the world that the darkness has been defeated.  We are the ones who are now visiting prisons, hospitals, shelters and halfway houses with the expressed intent of eliminating the gloom and distress that many in our society are saddled with.  We are the ones who, like my neighbor, bear the expense for the blessing of those around us.  You are the light of the world.

So, this Christmas season, find those dark corners of your community and shine for them.  Seek those who are in distress or gloom and share the light of hope around them.  Be a blessing to those without one.  And be blessed in the warmth of His great light.