Updated: Jan 9, 2021
Light of the World
Christmas is quickly approaching, and we all know...
...It's time to prepare.
The season just started and you may already feel like you're behind. It's okay. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Let's take a little break from the craze and holi-daze together.
Before diving in - if you haven't read Part 1, go back do a quick read. We talked about mice (the sweet children's book kind) and cookies and music and baking and seasons. Seems a bit random but it all comes together, and it's worth the read.
We started to realize the reason we are obsessed with the concept of home for the holidays is because deep down - deep, deep down - we long for love, joy, hope and peace that this world can't give.
We long for home because we long for Him. We're created with this longing. It's natural. It's ordained. It's part of us. It's actually written on our hearts.
In our time leading up to Christmas, I think we can begin to look into the decorations we place around our homes - the things we prep, primp, purchase and place in our homes - and see how even then, we're drawn to something greater.
Lights, Lights, and More Lights
One of my all-time favorite decorations are the lights. Classic white, icicle, or multi-color - I love them all.
It's one of my favorite traditions, too. As a family, we would bundle up and jump into the car, maybe get a hot chocolate and go for a drive around town. We'd drive through various neighborhoods and "Ooh" and "Ahh" over the creative outdoor lighting.
Trees tightly wound with tiny lights; it looks too perfect to have been done by human hands. Oh and of course, lights synchronized to music. Talk about a jam!
We be jammin' to Rock'N Around the Christmas Tree, staring at lights, while we're jammed bumper to bumper in traffic down a tiny neighborhood street not built for this kind of madness.
But then again, the madness is part of the fun.
My Dad loves to take us to one house in particular that looks like Clark Griswold himself lives there. It's a little ways out of town but it was worth the drive to see a house seemingly dressed in 25,000-ish lights. ...Except thankfully for this house, the sewer is clean.
Or, we wouldn't be going!
If you're in the Highland Park area this time of year, don't be surprised if you drive through a neighborhood looking at lights and see a real-life reindeer on the front lawn!
My friends and I might have driven by three more times just to see if we were dreaming.
Blitzen was in Texas, y'all.
Why were we surprised? Everything's bigger in Texas ...even the holiday parties!
Why the Lights?
Why are lights such an integral part of Christmas? We light the house and the trees in the yard. We string lights on the Christmas tree. We light candles. We light wood in the fireplace.
What's the deal with all the lights? Where did it all begin?
For that, we need to take a look at the first Christmas. Recorded in the book of Matthew, we learn the wise men who have dedicated their entire lives to studying the lights in the heavens, understand a star will be a sign of the King's birth.
No ordinary king. The King. The King of all kings.
His name is Jesus.
...they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. - Matthew 2:9-11
How did they know to look for a star in the sky as their sign?
They knew the Old Testament prophecy that the new king would come in the family of David. They had probably been studying the heavens for years and waiting for alignments to tell of the Savior's birth. The prophet Isaiah foretold of this light, writing,
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:2,6
When God created the heavens and the planets and the stars, He put everything into order. He's a God of the fine-print details. Truly details so fine we can't even see them all. He orchestrated the alignments of the heavens so a bright light would appear for the birth of His Son.
I'm not making this up because it sounds good. It's true! In Genesis when God created the stars, God says,
“Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. - Genesis 1:14-15
Light is used to mark sacred, or holy, times - the birth of Jesus.
Why? Because His Son is the Light of the world. Jesus says,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12
We see this throughout Scripture. He is wrapped in light (Psalm 104) and Jesus is the light of all mankind that darkness cannot overcome (John 1).
And taking this one step further, we recognize wise men studying lights is no coincidence. Wisdom and light go hand in hand.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. - Psalm 119:130
The unfolding of the prophecy of the Old Testament gave light, or understanding, to the coming Light of the world.
And it doesn't stop there.
Because of the life of Jesus, we have life. His light is in us! We are called to shine as a light. Jesus gave us an identity in Him and gave us a command,
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." - Matthew 5:14
Wait, did you catch that? A second ago He said He was the light of the world. Now, He's saying we, His followers, are the light of the world?
Yeah, pretty incredible isn't it?!
The life of Jesus not only gives us life but it gives us a new identity. We get to share in His nature of light.
But that's not all. He goes on to tell us that we have a responsibility as a Christ-follower.
This light is not one that we can turn on bright for Sunday mornings and dim it down during Monday meetings or Tuesday carpools or Wednesday social media numbing or Thursday Netflix binging or Friday hang-outs or Saturday date nights. This light is not one to wave around in the air at Christmas time as we help others and slide in our back pocket the other eleven months of the year.
This light is the eternal flame. It is meant to be held high and shine everywhere we go with everyone we meet in every place we gather.
"Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." - Matthew 5:15
This Christmas, as we decorate our homes with lights and appreciate the lights in our neighborhoods and town, let us remember we are called to be this light in the dark world.
Let us find strength in the wisdom of scriptures. Let us find joy in the light of Jesus and peace that we no longer have to walk in the darkness. Let us find rest in our identity as the light of the world.
Yes, my friend, let us experience home for the holidays this Christmas - the home our souls long for.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!