Some of my fondest childhood memories of Christmas are of those times when my mom or dad or aunt or uncle would take me, my brother, and our cousins to see the Christmas lights.
In rural North Carolina, we don't refer to groups of houses along rural roads as “neighborhoods.” However, it was to one such rural cluster of houses that we would drive to every Thanksgiving weekend to see the lights. Cars would line up for quite a distance, and we would drive by, ever so slowly, amazed at how these homeowners had taken the time to trace various objects in their yard with Christmas lights.
There was one question that never failed to surface. It was, “I wonder how much their light bill is?” Now, mind you, this was long before highly efficient and energy-saving LED Christmas lights became so prevalent. Back in my childhood days, they used the “big bulbs.” Thus, I came to appreciate these homeowners even more when I realized that their electric bill, come December and January, would be substantially higher than other months—all because they delighted in bringing joy to their neighbors near and far.
So, since my childhood, the Christmas lights have been my favorite Christmas decorations.
Now that I'm older and have been a disciple of Jesus for more than 20 years, I realize that light has tremendous significance in the truth surrounding the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus is described by the Old Testament prophet Isaiah as a great light dawning from the darkness that dispels all gloom and fear. Listen to Isaiah:
Isaiah 9:1–2 (NLT) 1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
What good news! The time of darkness and despair will not go on forever, because light has dawned. Later on in that passage, Isaiah also tells us that this good news is directly related to the birth of a child, a child who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Remarkable! That there would be a child who could usher in a reign of peace throughout the world could only be accomplished by God, and God did it and is doing it.
But do you know what is equally remarkable? That God would place this same light in us, His people. Now, because the Light Bearer, Jesus Christ, has come and reigns in our hearts, we are made to be “the light of the world.” We, like little Christmas lights in a strand, have been woven together and placed by a Grand Light Designer in such a way that we might illuminate the objects around us reveal his handy work. When passersby see us, who have been ever so carefully placed, bring light into a dark world, they pause for a moment and give smiles of praise and gasps of adoration. For that moment, ordinary lights, in ordinary places, stir up extraordinary worship.
My friends, my prayer for us at Christmas time is that we may we see how extraordinary one ordinary child was. And how this ordinary child made us extraordinary people who now have light in us that dispels the gloom of yesterday and brings bright hope for tomorrow.
Merry Christmas and may God bless us one and all.
Chaplain James Chavis