“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
We just put up our Christmas decorations, including the lights for the front of the house. We have three kinds of lights illuminating the house. First, we wrapped the porch columns with strings of colored lights. They look great, but they only go on when you turn on the switch inside the house. If no one is home to turn them on, they stay dark. Second, we put a wreath with twinkling lights at the peak of the front porch. The wreath is on a timer that turns on for 6 hours every 24 hours, so we set it to come on at 5 pm and go off at 11. Finally, we put battery operated candles in the front windows. The candles have electric eyes and turn on automatically when it gets dark, either at night or if it gets dark due to a storm. Three different kinds of lights that give light in different ways.
It seems to me that there were three different ways for God to provide light to the world. In the Old Testament we saw God raising up judges when there was specific need among the Israelites. That’s kind of like the light on our porch pillars. God had to operate the switch to turn on the light, to raise up the leader at the right time. It worked for a while, but as Scripture tells us, pretty soon people did whatever they wanted to do, and faith became scarce.
Then came the era of kings. God’s intent may have been to provide on-going light to the people, but instead it seemed that true leadership appeared only intermittently, when there was great need. Like the lights on our wreath, leadership came and went, with years of corruption in between, and only the occasional David or Hezekiah.
Finally, God sent a new kind of light to the people of the world – a light that would shine whenever and wherever there was darkness. Like the candles in my windows, this light didn’t need to be turned on and wasn’t on for a 6 hours then off for 18. This light would shine no matter what the time, no matter what prompted the darkness. This was the light that would guide our feet from this world to the next – the light of Jesus Christ.
So as you look at the battle of the Christmas lights this season, take time to give thanks to God for the greatest light of all, Jesus Christ, who came to shine a light on our way and to illuminate the darkest corners of our world. When you find yourself sitting in the dark, look for the light of Christ – it will be on wherever there is darkness to bring the light of God’s love, hope, peace, and joy.
Prayer: Light of the world, you have come in Jesus Christ to to offer love and hope to those who live in darkness. Shine brightly in my life so that I may be guided in the ways that lead to your peace and wholeness. Shine so brightly that your light shines through me that I may contribute to your work of lighting the world. Let me reflect your light, bringing love and hope to those who live in darkness. Today, Lord, I especially lift to you the people of Aleppo and Syria, asking that you would change hearts so that the young, the infirm and the innocent may be saved. Light of the world, shine brightly in that part of your kingdom today. Amen.