~~Christmas Lights~ ~
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness
doesn’t extinguish the light.”
Dear Members and Friends,
Do you ever wonder why Christmas is such a huge deal? Something about Christmas has captured the world’s imagination. People who are not even remotely interested in faith still celebrate Christmas. Of course, babies and angels always hold popular appeal. But the rest of the Christmas message ought to be a hard sell. Christmas is about the doctrine of the incarnation: the belief that God, in Jesus, takes on our humanity, experiencing our joy and our sorrow, embracing all the messy beauty that we are. It’s a comforting belief. But the incarnation is not the kind of thing that you’d expect to have people forming lines outside department stores at 6AM the day after Thanksgiving.
Christmas concerts, Christmas movies, Christmas cookies, Christmas sweaters, Christmas lights. I think it’s the light that makes Christmas so beloved. It’s just so dark and cold at this time of the year; days are short, and nights are long. The light fades at just about the time we’re getting home from work each day, and it doesn’t come back till our morning commute. In this darkest of seasons, it’s the light that draws us: literal Christmas lights as well as the figurative lights of togetherness, and gift-giving, and feasting, and all the spiritual light that the holiday proclaims. The cold and dark of these days push us toward the light. Last January, when the kids and I were taking down the holiday decorations, there were two strings of lights that I just wasn’t ready to part with. I had an old sadness that I needed to resist, and I was ready to take any help I could get. So I left those two strings of Christmas lights up. They’ve been casting their cheerful glow in our TV room each night, every night, since early last December. O the blessings of the light.
In the darkening Advent Season, we light candles to represent some of the powers that hold our souls fast even in the darkest times. These are: hope, peace, joy, and love. Christians are not alone in celebrating light at this time of year. Diwali and Hanukkah are also festivals of light that fall in the Northern Hemisphere’s darkest season. Like sunflowers, we human beings are forever seeking the light.
The Orthodox bishop of Jerusalem has asked Christians to refrain from putting up Christmas lights this year as a sign of solidarity with the sufferings of the innocent in the land of Jesus’ birth. There is much darkness in our world today. At Christmastime, let’s celebrate the light. Let’s rejoice in the light. Let’s live as children of the light, meditating on those four sources of inner strength: hope, peace, joy, and love.
Happy Advent Season and a very Merry Christmas to you.
PS: Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year! Our 9:30 a.m. service will be oriented toward families with children, though all are welcome! The evening candlelight service will start at 7:00 p.m., but come early for special Christmas music beginning at 6:30 p.m..