My children love Christmas lights. I know most children delight in driving around looking at the lights during this season, and adults do too – but my kids? My kids are obsessed.
Every year we take them to the native reserve in our town for their amazing display of lights. There aren’t many houses on the reserve that aren’t decked out with lights – some completely covered with additional lawn ornaments and holiday tunes playing, while others take a more simple yet beautiful approach with just a few. That must be where the whole thing started…
Now it’s this huge ordeal. We save the tour of the reserve for Christmas Eve, but they beg us to take them on a drive to look at lights regularly from November until January. They sketch out houses with lights and plan potential routes. They dream up their own plans of what they’d decorate their own houses to look like. They watch television programs about the craziest, over the top light shows. They scour the internet for deals on lights for our own house, but to their dismay we keep it simple with a single light projector. My oldest son takes walks around the neighborhood to look at the lights after dark. In December, it seems like every waking moment they think about the lights.
This year when we went to set up our outdoor projector, it didn’t work. The cord was frayed and looked like it had been munched on by a squirrel. My husband tossed it in the trash, and we both thought oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Our children, however, were completely devestated and remind us daily how sad our house looks amongst the others on our street and ask when we will be replacing it. (If anyone sees any for sale after Christmas, let me know or I’ll never hear the end of it!)
I’ll admit that looking at Christmas lights is a fun family activity, and we do enjoy it ourselves. Seeing the different displays of lights illuminating the dark sky is exciting, but it’s not as essential to our celebrations during this season as our children would like to think…
This past weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday and after supper we decided to take a drive out of town to go and see a Christmas display that the kids had been raving about. We enjoyed the drive and they were so quiet – until we arrived. Then they loudly and excitedly chattered about the lights and watched with wonder as the performance timed to music flashed and twinkled both outside and inside the house. Across the street there was a meager display with a single white light illuminating a wood carved Nativity. And while my kids were drawn to the flashes of light and jingles of holiday tunes, my heart soared at the sight of a silent display of love.
As I looked at the carefully crafted nativity, I was struck by the thought that the King of Kings came to earth in a completely simple way. No fanfare, no flashing lights. Just a baby born in a dirty stable. A King born not in a palace, but in a cave. This silent display drew my heart to consider the cross. How a perfect baby was born to lay down His life so we could live. So that we could be free. So that we could have hope.
As we drove home we didn’t see another nativity. We did see several inflatables, which of course the boys happily commented on. But while they dreamed of decking the lawn with snowmen and Disney characters, I looked at the bright lights illuminating the houses and marveled at how they looked against the blackened night sky. Then another thought struck me. And it brought all my jumbled Christmas thoughts together.
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14-16
One of the reasons why we like Christmas lights is because they shine in the darkness. They bring cheer and happiness to many because they illuminate the dark. During the beginning weeks of the pandemic, many people chose to put out their Christmas lights to bring some positivity to a gloomy situation. To lift their spirits and those of the people around them. And here we have this command to do the very same thing – but instead of Christmas lights we are the lights.
God uses ordinary people to accomplish His purposes and to share His message with those who need Him. Like Christmas lights against the dark sky, we are to illuminate the darkness with His love through our actions. We are to shine so bright that others take notice. But we can’t shine if we don’t have His light in our lives.
Just a few days after Jesus was born, He was taken to the temple for a purification offering and dedication to the Lord as required by the law. While He was there, an elderly man named Simeon who was waiting for the Messiah was prompted by the Spirit to go to the temple. Simeon was promised he would not die before he had seen the Saviour. As he took Jesus in his arms and praised Him, he said, “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:32). Jesus’ birth also fulfilled the prophecies in Isaiah that speak of this amazing Light:
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. lsaiah 60:1
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6
It was just a simple light shining on that nativity, but it was a beautiful reminder that the Light of the World has come. This Christmas, may you think about how He has called us to illuminate the darkness with His love so that His salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Let’s shine together. ❤️