So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – Luke 2:16-18
A few weeks ago, as we rounded the corner toward our home after a tiring road trip, we were greeted by a neighbor’s home beautifully lit up with Christmas lights. I can’t tell you how much that ministered to my soul.
I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. A close relative was recently diagnosed with cancer. The young son of one of my wife’s friends was suddenly struck with a dire illness; we’ve been praying for him daily. And this time of year always reminds me of my parents. My mom died a week and a half before Christmas. The next year, my dad died the day after Thanksgiving.
Those lights lifted my spirits.
They brought me back to the original meaning of Christmas lights: to proclaim—to remember, really—that Jesus is the Light of the world.
As Christmas becomes ever busier, ever more commercial—and as all of that bumps hard against the Constant Negative News about the election, Aleppo, Berlin, and who knows where next—it restores my soul to re-read the story of the first Christmas.
I need the reminder that the first celebrants were not in a hurry to get to the mall; they were in a hurry to get to Jesus. And upon seeing Him, their thoughts did not turn toward fretting over what to buy or bake; they turned toward telling others about Him. That’s a timeless prescription for a great Christmas.
While Jesus is the true Light of the world (John 8:12), remarkably, He used the same metaphor to describe us, His followers.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
So, this Christmas, remember that you don’t have an obligation to prop up the economy, but you do have an opportunity to spread the word about all that has been told you about this child.
That isn’t about adding one more thing to your to-do list. No one needs that. It’s simply about being who God made you to be.
You never know what people are going through, but it’s a sure bet that many people you encounter every day are going through some kind of difficulty. And whatever it is, this season has a way of magnifying the pain.
So, as you take in the Christmas lights this year, remember what they represent. Jesus. The Light of the world. And remember this: You’re the light of the world, too.