December 23, 2014 by Pastor Ben McIntire
I love Christmas. I love the music, the cookies, the decorations. I even love the cold and the snow; and the coats, hats, scarves and mittens you have to bundle up in every time you go outside. I love the Christmas trees, glowing with lights. I love the cold December sky when it’s clear and sparkling with stars. I love driving around town and seeing people’s homes lit up and draped with icicle lights. Most of all, I love the Christmas Eve candlelight service, when each person holds a candle and sings Silent Night. There’s something magical about Christmas, and we all feel it in one way or another. For me, all these different kinds of Christmas Lights are the key to this feeling of magic and wonder, of expectation and delight. Perhaps it’s because we live in the Northern Hemisphere, and December 25 falls on one of the coldest and darkest days of the year, one of the longest nights we experience. For little kids, Christmas Eve is by far the longest night—I remember watching the red numbers on my clock as a kid, going from 3 to 4 to 5, finally to 6am, and then it was up out of bed to wake up the parents and see what was in those stockings under the tree.
Everyone has their own “Christmas Lights,” or we might call them highlights. Maybe yours is spending time with family and friends you haven’t seen for a long time, or picking out the perfect gift, or maybe it’s the food and the cookies. Maybe it’s making memories with your children and grandchildren. Whatever lights up Christmas for you, enjoy it. But let us never forget why we celebrate: because God has sent His own Light down into our darkness.
We are living in a world that often seems dark. Shadows extend across our community: grief and sadness, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, illness, depression and sin. But all it takes is one small light to pierce the darkness. And Jesus, whose birth we celebrate this month, tells us that we are the lights of the world. As Christians, we are God’s “Christmas Lights,” and He wants to send us out into the world, to set the whole Earth ablaze with the Light of Christ, the knowledge of God’s love and forgiveness, and the promise of eternal life.
Long ago, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Generations later, God spoke again through the prophet Isaiah to say, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” The first time God spoke to light up the world. The second time, God’s Word came to light up our hearts with the promise of a coming king, a Savior. How important it is to have that light within us! When we are lit on the inside, our whole world is a brighter place. You are the “Christmas Lights” who have heard God’s call through the Gospel and it is your task to become light-bearers to a dark and troubled world. Keep your “Christmas Lights” burning brightly so others can follow, as you illuminate the path to Christ through the darkness of the world.
Heavenly Father, I pray that this Christmas season would make us all mindful of your love for us, so full of grace that you came into our world and walked among us. Help me reflect the light of your grace and truth in the dark times and places of this world, that others may know the joy and peace of faith in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.