Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Christmas Light within

My thoughts on Christmas

Last night as I drove home, my son and daughter asked what time it was. 

"Seven o'clock" I answered systematically.

"But it's so dark. It feels like midnight." my exaggerators expelled. 

It did seem late. And dark. And cold. But through the darkness a far off hill twinkled a bright red and green or pure white. Large  lamp posts illuminated the black road ahead, and with the help of my headlights, there was enough light to guide us safely towards home. I felt thankful.  I felt even greater joy as we pulled into our neighborhood and saw the trees and yards and houses I passed were covered in tiny sparkling colorful lights as if to welcome us home. I wanted to say thank you to each house. Despite the chilly temperatures I felt warmth.

Light in the darkness. 

There is an old proverb that says "It is always darkest before the dawn." I like this saying, but I think it can be misleading. Yes, in the midst of unhappiness, or painful trials, there is hope for a happier time in the future, but we don't have to wait for the dawn. We can chose to  remain in darkness or to surround ourselves with warmth and light. You can be in the blackest cave where there is not one spec of light--you can't see your hand next to your eye no matter how hard you strain--and if you light a small candle, or even turn on a dull flashlight the darkness is swallowed up in illumination. This power is a gift from Him. And we each have it.

As I drove I thought how fitting, and not altogether coincidental, that we celebrate Christmas--the birth of the Savior of the world--during the darkest and coldest time of year. The history of why early Christians adopted this time is complex, and in some ways controversial as there wasn't YouTube or google back in 300 AD to give us reliable information. I'm kidding somewhat there, by the way. But this I know: as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, we as human beings are compelled to light a candle, decorate a fir tree, sing a carol, fill our yard and homes with ten thousand lights, visit the sick and the affirm, serve our neighbors, wish a total stranger a good day and a Merry Christmas, and finally, exchange gifts with loved ones as if to say there is hope for a brighter, warmer, happier future. One that includes you. It's a beautiful thing. I love Christmas. I love the light that comes from Him and shines through us.

I love people. I love to drive around and look at the lights. I love to see that my neighbors have chosen to light a candle in a window on a dark December night or decorate a tree or start a fire (in the fireplace of course) or sing a song, share a gift, do a good deed for someone. This is how we light our dark nights. This is how we spread hope for a brighter dawn. This is how we celebrate. 

This is how we spread the story of a tiny babe who came to save us all. This is how we usher in the dawn.

Merry Christmas

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