The lights of Christmas feel especially needed this very dark year; this COVID-19 year most people say they can’t wait to leave behind. But take hope: we will surely leave it behind, for every year in the history of the world has ended. So has every pandemic.
I like the blue Christmas lights best. They speak to me of stars in a black velvet sky, or the merry twinkle in my daughter’s eyes when she laughs. But I only had one string of blue ones and they’re hard to match, should I try to find more. My son-in-law seemed happy to give the lights a home on the fence beside the chicken coop.
Instead of blue, we outlined the front porch with several strings of bright white twinklers, nestled among a scraggly pine garland. Not grand, compared to some other homes, but even a candle pokes a hole in darkness.
Sheepdog Cash and I meandered down Eighth Avenue last evening. As we walked, I delighted in the lights at those other houses—multiple strings, icicles, angels, reindeer and gloriously lit archways. Then a thought stopped me mid-stride, right near the weeping birch with tiny shooting stars clear to the top.
I wonder, came the thought, clear as a Christmas bell…I wonder if those people, or those or those or those….any of those displaying the lights that cheer me so…I wonder if they know why we hang lights at Christmas. If they know the true Light of Christmas; Jesus, Light of the World.
During the decade we lived in Ebenezer, our family participated in the annual Christmas Eve service at the local Baptist church. Greeters welcomed guests warmly and handed each person a small unlit candle. Some of us came just for the tradition of those candles.
After the carols and readings, the sanctuary lights dimmed to almost complete darkness—though not darkness for long. As the congregation sang Silent Night, ushers walked down the aisles lighting the candles held by the people at the end of the pews. That person passed the flame to the next, and the next and the next, until the sanctuary glowed, a pincushion of light points cradled on velvet.
“Silent night, holy night,” we sang, recalling the night of Christ’s birth, when the creator of Light, God himself, robed as an infant human, slipped into our cosmos, black with sin and sadness.
“The people living in darkness have seen a great light, ” Luke wrote (4:16) quoting Old Testament prophet Isaiah. “On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” As never before in most of our lives, during this pandemic period, Christ-followers must cling to the Light of the World. But let’s also find creative ways to share his life, light and love with those who find their way sad and lonely. Let’s remind each other that the darkness that surrounds us now can’t destroy God’s light. All it does is make it easier to see.