Who doesn’t like Christmas lights?
I’m sure we all have differing opinions about which lights we like the most and more than a couple of us probably have thoughts about just exactly when those lights should power up. (I’m still enough of a traditionalist to say those who turn them on sometime between Labor Day and Halloween are a wee bit early).
We have different tastes and opinions about the rest of it. But we love twinkling, beautiful, Christmas lights.
Let me give you one more thing I’m absolutely sure we all agree upon: when to enjoy those lights. I’m not talking about what day of the week or month, I’m talking about what time of day.
I’ll go out on a Christmas limb here and say that there’s not one of us who piles the kids in a car or strolls around a neighborhood with friends looking at lights…in the middle of the day. Of course not. Imagine the looks you’d get if you invited everyone at work to go look at Christmas lights during your lunch break.
Because the stunning beauty of those lights shines brightest against the darkness. It’s an obvious point, I know.
But all throughout the Christmas narrative are extraordinary promises and celebrations—the great King has finally arrived in the most unlikely of ways. But look again and there is darkness in the story—the haunting prophecy of Simeon that young Mary will one day experience a heartache she cannot yet imagine. The bloodshed of innocents evoked by a jealous monarch hunting down the newborn King. We know already, the encroaching evil and future battles this baby will face as He grows up.
And yet, He wins. Never once was He overmatched or outwitted. Never once did the glorious plan of God steer off course. Darkness was a very real part of the story but at every turn, light prevailed.
As much as I love the beauty and tender intimacy of the Christmas narratives, it all comes alive when I see it more clearly against the backdrop of the darkness. I don’t celebrate that darkness. Nor should I fear it. But I should acknowledge it and, at times, face it head on. For it still casts lingering shadows in this world. In my world. But it will not win.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
– Isaiah 9:2
Christmas is such a good and hopeful story—it is the beginning of the beginning of everything new. And that light shines brightest against the darkness. Even now, in the hurt and shock and loss…in the stress and hurry and frenzy…in the loneliness and worry and doubt…He wins.
To know the light of Christmas is to know the power of God’s salvation, we cling to, we hope for, we wait for the God who walks us through the darkness. To the other side, sometimes much faster than we expected. Sometimes much slower. But never, never does He forsake or leave.
The story of our lives is caught up in the story of Christmas.
As such, there are layers of meaning and promise to find. But this is certainly one of those promises: the God who enters the chaos of our world was not overwhelmed by it. He has triumphed and will see us through. In this in between time, how long will you have to wait to see our answer? Our resolution to whatever struggle we face? I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is the one on whom we wait is still working right now, this Christmas. This very day. Yes, the darkness is real even as it fights a losing battle. Dawn has broken.
But the light? It has not dimmed one bit. And it’s power? It’s beauty? Perhaps those who need it most this season will also be those who see it best.
Maybe that’s one reason I love Christmas lights.