In the sour spirit of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, I caught myself muttering, "No Christmas lights for you!" I was reluctant to crawl into the dusty attic and pull out our thirty boxes of Christmas décor. Our daughters are married and have their own houses to decorate. I wonder if I could get them and their husbands to come decorate our house? I mused. I just wasn’t into it. What difference do the lights make? Do we really need a Christmas tree? I settled by putting up two wreaths in the windows and hung the stockings on the mantle (but not with care), and nestled down for a long winter’s football game. I’m just not feeling it.
My neighbors ruined it. After the football game I went to the store, and when I came back, it was dark and most of them had hung vast displays of spectacular LED lights that glowed brightly, sending out rays of light visible to airline passengers approaching LAX. My neighbors had thrown down the gauntlet! I didn’t want to be that guy that wasn’t into Christmas, or too lazy to put up his lights. Of course, it could be worse: I could be the neighbor who leaves his lights up all year. I decided to be neither guy – the scrooge or the slacker.
I pulled out the bin labeled outdoor lights and opened it. To my surprise, there were several boxes of new LED lights that I had purchased in January! Merry Christmas! Now I can keep up with my neighbors. I hung my new lights, finishing at dusk. The sensor kicked on the lights. I stood and marveled at my work. The intense reds pierced the darkness. The dazzling greens lit up the trees. The vivid yellows illuminated the trim. And the blues radiated the bricks with a splash of vibrant color. And then I remembered why we have lights at Christmas: to remind us of the star of Bethlehem that spotlighted the King of Kings who came as a baby and the Light of the world.
‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’ – 2 Corinthians 4:6
This Christmas, take time to notice the lights, the candles and the luminous flames in the fireplace, and remember that light is a gift from God. Without light there would be no life. And without the Light of the World there would be no eternal life, joy or peace. Reflect on the glory – the brilliance of God, shown to us in the face of a baby – the Christ.
FAMILY TIME EXPERIENCE: Make some cocoa (or stop at Starbucks) then go for a drive as a family to look at the homes with spectacular lights.
Ask, “How many references to light can you think of when you think of Christmas traditions?”
“What is it about light that is so comforting?”
“What would it be like to be in utter darkness?”
Then take a minute to pause and thank God for sending the Light of the World.
May God’s Light shine in our hearts this Christmas.