Photo by Paul Vladuchick on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What’s your favourite Christmas tradition? Is it exchanging gifts, baking special desserts, decorating the tree, or perhaps wearing ugly Christmas sweaters?

For many of us, our most cherished Christmas tradition probably involves lights, whether they’re on your own Christmas tree, or decorating houses in your neighbourhood. Some people go all out, putting tens of thousands of lights on their home, as in the example pictured above. Apparently, the interior of that house is decorated with the same exuberance, and with all the lights on, the homeowner can’t use the microwave without blowing all the fuses.

This season is inextricably linked to lights, but might we have missed the most important light of all?

We’re putting up Christmas lights in houses and on streets that are already well lit. The colourful lights are beautiful and bring us joy, but don’t really provide much extra illumination. We seem to have all the light we need.

But maybe we don’t realize how much darkness we’re really in. With our busy, self-sufficient lives, we may not recognize that we’re lacking a different sort of light, one that resides inside of us.

Jesus came to bring that light. His arrival shone a spotlight into areas of spiritual darkness, illuminating the world’s need for a saviour.

I wonder if we really appreciate how astonishing the coming of Jesus was 2000 years ago. First of all, events surrounding His birth were literally accompanied by brilliant, dazzling light.

Scripture indicates that when the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, it was nighttime. Out in the fields, long before the invention of electric light, the shepherds would have been in deep darkness. The only lights available to them were the moon and stars, and perhaps a campfire.

But they were stunned to see a light more incandescent than any they had seen before, one that would outshine any Christmas light to come:

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened.” (Luke 2:9)

Painting: “The Shepherds and the Angel” by Carl Bloch 1879 (Public domain)

The shepherds were initially scared, but were told that this blazing light heralded “good news of great joy that will be for all people.” The shepherds learned that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah:

“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…. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2 and 9:6)

The shepherds not only saw a radiant light, they learned that a spiritual light was now available to everyone. Simeon affirmed this when he held the infant Jesus in the temple and prophesied:

“He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:32)

Jesus’s birth would change history by illuminating human hearts, one at a time. He can change your heart, too. His light can dispel your personal darkness. Let Him be a lamp to your feet, your lighthouse, your North Star.

In John 8:12 Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Whether we live in well-lit urban areas or deep in the pitch-black countryside, let’s not forget this Christmas that without the Light of the World, we all live in darkness.

© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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