One of the Christmas traditions I love most is the lights. What fun it is to drive through the neighborhoods and see how people have used lights to decorate their homes, from the simplicity of white bulbs outlining a house and yard to the intricate, multi-colored scenes that dance to recorded music.
The first decorations we put on our Christmas tree are two or three strings of colored lights, both the blinking and the constant kind. Sometimes, when the pace of the Christmas season gets too hectic, I’ll take time in the early morning to sit alone and silently gaze at the tree lights, enjoying the peace and quiet and color.
Lights are appropriate for celebrating the birth of the Savior, Jesus, who called himself the Light of the world. That probably meant more to people in his day who were dependent on the sun for most of their light. Oil lamps, torches, campfires were far less efficient and tended to be used only for necessities. Nowadays, light is so easily obtained at the flick of a switch that we don’t appreciate it until a storm knocks it out.
Recently, I spent some time thinking about light, observing its uses and functions. Light can be soft and romantic, or over bright and harsh. It can be diffuse, shining everywhere, or it can be confined to one particular spot. Without light, we can’t see. We can’t read, or work, or see the faces of loved ones and friends. Without light, we run into obstacles, stub our toes and stumble over errant toys and shoes. Light guides us on a dark path, and offers protection from those who might seek to harm us.
Light can bring comfort, especially when all around is dark. Have you ever been in total darkness? Try it sometime. Go into a room that is completely dark. Spend a few minutes in darkness, and then light one small match. That one small light dispels our disorientation and comforts us. Similarly, a house light left on for those who are on their way home communicates anticipation of their arrival, and lets them know they are not forgotten. A warm memory from my childhood involves the light from a signpost directing travelers to our camp. That light was visible from the kitchen window of my childhood home. Many cold winter nights, while washing the supper dishes, I’d gaze out that window and see that light shining in the darkness, often illuminating snowflakes falling around it. Even now when I recall that scene, I experience the same peace and comfort as I did long ago.
Light is necessary for healthy growth. Without sunlight, we’d starve for lack of food. The sun’s light provides important vitamins and processes that help plants, animals, and human beings grow and develop. It also allows us to see the abundant colors of nature—reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and purples. How boring life would be without the myriad variations on these colors, without light!
When I turned to the Bible, I realized light is the first thing God created. (Genesis 1:3) It’s also mentioned in the last chapter of Revelation, declaring that the new Heaven will have no need of lamps or sun because God will be the light and there will be no darkness. (Revelation 22:5)
Is it any wonder then, that Jesus’ birth was announced by angels whose blinding light surely made the shepherds’ campfire laughable? And why wouldn’t the wise men’s journey be guided by the light of a star? He is, after all, the Light of the world. BlueLetterBible.com describes this sort of light as pure and delicate, brilliant in its quality and in its power to understand truth, both the moral and spiritual kind. I like that. Jesus, the light of the world, brings illumination, nourishment, growth, comfort, and beauty to us who sit in darkness.
Have a merry, light-filled Christmas!