Christmas is a season of lights. Yesterday I missed my daily Christmas-series post because I spent the day in NYC with Lynn, Sarah (my wife and daughter), Joseph and David (two church leaders from Myanmar). From the lights of the Rockefeller Christmas tree to the lights of the Bryant Park Christmas market to the garish lights of Times Square to the haunting lights of the 9-11 Memorial, the day was awash with light.
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. Isaiah 9:2
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
In the last blog post on Pondering Christmas I shared the idea of some memory aids that will help us ponder Christmas in the hope that our hearts will take on the texture of Christmas, not the Santa-consumer-childish Christmas, but the wonder-filled, grace-giving, hell-bashing Christmas. The first memory aid was Christmas Cards. The second is Christmas Lights.
If there is one part of the whole Christmas culture that I love, it’s the lights. Yes I complain about putting them up and I’m slow to take them down…but I love the lights. Lights remind me of the “why” of Christmas. The light of the world came because the world was dark.
Can I give you some Christmas thoughts to ponder when you see Christmas lights this year?
– Darkness cannot overcome light. Some of you reading this are going through a dark time. You might even feel like you were sucker-punched by God, but no matter how dark your world seems to be at the moment, darkness cannot overcome the light. Darkness is nothing more than the absence of light. It has no power on its own; it is defined by absence. Have you let Jesus shine in your life?.
– Every light (life) makes a difference, no matter how small. Jesus was a bright light. No light could ever be brighter, but I wonder if he came as a baby, who became a man with few visible resources, who ended up dying a horrendous death, as a reminder that even just one life (light) can make a difference. One life (light) can make a difference and when it is filled with the light of the world, the most natural thing in the world to do is to shine. Isn’t that part of the message of Nelson Mandela’s life? Any life lived in the light can make a difference in a dark world.
Last night I went to the 9-11 memorial for the very first time. I went with my family to the site on the Thanksgiving after the attack, but I had never been to the memorial. I didn’t really expect to make it in this time, because the last time I was there you needed passes days in advance. We walked up to the site at 4:55, with no passes, to find that the entrance closes at 5pm and we could pick up our pass right there. With minutes to spare we made it in.
The memorial–especially at night–is all about light and darkness. Waterfalls awash in light fall into pools filled with shadows. But what struck me the most were the names. Surrounding the pools are metal plates with the names of the lives lost cut into the plate. At night, the light of the pool shines up through the names. It led me to pray. “Lord shine your light through my life into the darkness of the world around me. Let me be a light.”
That’s my Christmas Challenge. If you want to “Join the One” for an unforgettable Christmas; Ponder the light. Seek to be a light.