Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas lights strung with great care!

Light - most don't equate Christmas with light - but I think the glowing and twinkling lights of the season are a reminder to us of the simplicity of the truth that LIGHT came into the world that one Christmas night so long ago.  In the decoration of our homes with the icicle lights and the twinkling rows of bright LED, we see more than just brightness - we see the love that goes into taking all the time to bring those lights into order and arrange them into a display of beauty.  I remember the hours and hours my dad would take designing how he'd put them up each year.  Each year brought some new addition, usually created by his own hands and in his tremendous imaginative way.  I remember one year with a huge cross on our roof, fashioned from tin pie pans mom had saved throughout the year, each with a glowing light in the center.  The piece was magnificent!  In fact, it drew the attention of the neighbors as they commented how creative the piece was and how much light it brought into the display.  He was ahead of his time, because this was in the very early 60's and his creativity that year sparked some pretty awesome creativity among the neighbors the following year!  What dad always did was create a place which was festive, but also very focused on celebrating the reason for our season of celebration - the birth of Christ.  In the display of lights, we always were reminded of how the "first light" was "displayed" in the tiny manger, adorned by the light of a bright star!

The true light that shines on everyone was coming into the world.  The Word was in the world, but no one knew him, though God had made the world with his Word.  He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him.  Yet some people accepted him and put their faith in him.  So he gave them the right to be the children of God.  They were not God’s children by nature or because of any human desires. God himself was the one who made them his children.  The Word became a human being and lived here with us.  We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.  From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.  (John 1:9-14 CEV)

We sometimes don't recall these words from the Apostle John as we tell our Christmas stories, but they are nonetheless quite a significant part of the Christmas season!  The "true light" was coming into the world - known by none, though he had been the very one to create all which was in the world, including those who would both accept and reject him.  Those he created would both accept - coming into the fullness of light; and they would reject - pushing light away because it was too convicting, too revealing, or too "hot" for their liking.  The light shone either way - whether we were going to accept it or reject - it shone on everyone.  No one is outside of the reach of this "light" of Christ.  As we celebrate our Christmas holidays this year, I challenge us to remember the purpose of light - it is shed so that which is not easily distinguishable may come into focus.  When light is shed, the things hidden in the mystery of darkness are now plainly revealed.

The most important portion of this passage is the very last sentence:  From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us.  From Christ, the light of the world, all the kindness of God is brought down to our level.  It never ceases to amaze me that the most holy and divine God would come down to our level in order to meet us right where we are at.  In this act, the truest meaning of service is defined.  It is the laying down of one's own life for the needs of another.  Jesus came down to our level to reveal to us the extremity of God's kindness - his mercy, grace, and tremendous love.  He came to reveal all the truth of God to us - so we'd no longer have to deal with the "abstract" beliefs and rules, but have the "concrete" evidence of his love resident within us.

The very presence of Christ brought light - it brought the revelation of God's grace.  This is what light does - it reveals what we have a hard time seeing apart from light.  Grace is sometimes the hardest thing for us to actually understand because we don't equate the gift of grace with anything we already know about on this earth.  I wonder though if Christ coming as a tiny, innocent babe into this world wasn't a way of us learning a little more about grace.  Perhaps in the innocence of the infant we might just realize that grace comes in small ways - then it grows and grows, until it is mature in us.  We sometimes don't "get" grace until we have more and more light which reveals the depth and breadth of grace! 

If we see our Christmas lights twinkling a little brighter this year, maybe it is because we are reminded of the light of God's grace and truth which is exemplified in those glowing little bulbs!  Just sayin!

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