I love Christmas. I love the music, the decorations, the air of expectation, and the lights. Oh, how I love the lights! Truly Christmas is a season of light.
We hang icicle lights from the eaves of our home, put flameless candles in the windows, hang a lighted wreath on the door, add strings of light over the fireplace, and decorate lighted trees upstairs and downstairs.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas, our family likes to drive to look at the lights on Main Street. We like to drive through neighborhoods and see the lights on houses. We like to read the Christmas story by candlelight in the evenings.
Our church, like many churches, ends the Christmas program with a candlelight service as we sing Silent Night.
The candlelight service is one of my favorite things. Our congregation leaves the pews and lines the walls of the sanctuary holding unlit candles in an unbroken ring. Deep silence fills the room when the lights are turned off. My husband takes the candle from the center of the Advent wreath and with its flame lights the candles on his right and left. Each candle comes to life as the flame is passed from one person to the next. One by one the candles share light until the faces across the sanctuary appear in the warm glow. Then a single voice begins “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Like the flame, other voices join and sing of the Light of the world, “All is calm, all is bright.” And for a moment, all is bright.
It is such a beautiful picture of the gospel. One Light pierced the darkness and touched others who spread the light. One by one as the flame passed from one heart to the next, the boundaries of darkness receded and light filled the world.
I think I love the lights at Christmas because each tiny pinpoint reminds me of the saints who collaborated so my heart could shine. I was not at Christ’s right or left side for him to start the circle with me. It took centuries of faithful saints on fire for Christ, touching the lives of others, to bring the light to my place in history.
When I gaze at a light display and see the beauty a collection of lights brings, it reminds me of the collection of saints to which I belong. I do not stand alone. We are called to light the world with the grace and beauty of Christ. As we take the light He ignites in our hearts and touch others with His love, we push back the boundaries of darkness.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 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 1:1-5
I think I love the lights at Christmas because they remind me that darkness has not, can not, and will not overcome the light. A single point of light pierces the darkness. A single point of light draws the eye and stirs the heart to long for more. That first candle in our service reminds me a single point of eternal Light shone in the darkness one Christmas night long ago. That Light ignited the hearts of men and it no longer shines alone. Saints from ages past right up to the present stand shoulder to shoulder in an unbroken ring. As the circle of light widens to encompass all of history, we see faces across the centuries appear in the light of His word. And our voices join the ancient melody:
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God, love’s pure light
radiant beams from thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
This Christmas, won’t you take time to celebrate the light? Do you have time to look into the heavens and gaze at the stars? Can you find time to load the kids up in the car and search for the lights? Is there someone you can touch with the Light?