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Children of the Light

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:4-5
I love Christmas lights…I know for many of you, January 2nd is a little late to make that declaration, but I can’t help myself. I just love Christmas lights! I love understated homes that are decorated with warm, white lights gently draped across their bushes and candles lit in the windows. I love homes that go all out, garishly posting lit blow-ups across their lawn in a seemingly haphazard way that delights every child who rides by. I applaud the homeowners who risk life and limb to climb up on their roof to outline their home with lights. I love spotlights, and twinkle lights, and light scenes projected onto the garage. I celebrate neighbors who coordinate to create a theme- like Oreland’s Candy Cane Lane- where each home along the street lights an arched candy cane to create a magical corridor of wonder. When our children were young, we would drive around the neighborhoods looking for the “best” Christmas display, with ‘best’ being defined as the biggest and most outlandish gathering of lights and characters in the area. I must admit that I still enjoy those rides even without the kids, because…

I love Christmas lights… My niece and her husband constructed a 12-foot-high star on their lawn this year, with a revolving disco ball in the center. Surely a heavenly disco ball must have been part of the first Christmas Star! Their neighbors just three doors down joined them in declaring the Christmas story, placing a holy family prominently on their lawn with light shining through their plastic faces. Did you know Frosty and the Abominable Snowman came to visit baby Jesus this year?

None of our neighbors’ displays could win The Great Christmas Light Fight, but together our community has shown brightly in the darkness this Christmas. I love all those Christmas lights… so, I dread what is coming. It happens every year, when ‘Christmas is over.’ Even if you are not as big a Christmas light enthusiast, I would imagine that at some level you dread what is about to happen. All those beautiful lights will go back into their boxes, stored away for another year. And with each pack-up of Christmas decorations, the darkness descends a bit more, until it seems like the night has won again.

John declares in his gospel account of the Incarnation, that the One who has come is light, and that the darkness cannot overcome His light. Yet, watching the nightly news, some of us would beg to differ. Vegas odds seem to favor the darkness. Darkness is pressing in from all sides… war… division… political debate… inflation… Even the disrespect and general nastiness of our society seems to challenge any attempt for light to win. The darkness has even invaded many of our homes and touched our hearts. For the last month, light has often won the day, and even the night, with worship and concerts and family gatherings. But now ‘Christmas is over,’ and all those lights will be packed away until Christmas 2024. Even if time flies, that seems like a long, dark time away. We enter January more like Isaiah’s “people walking in darkness” than those who “have seem a great light.” Why do we submit to the darkness when we know the One who is the light of all?

Today, remember the good news of great joy. While the season is over, the light of Christmas is not seasonally bound. Christmas has only just begun! The One, who is light, cannot be packed away as if He were a plastic lawn ornament or a spinning disco ball. His light cannot be shrouded in the darkness of the world’s sin. He is the One who died on the cross and rose from the dead to conquer the sin and darkness of this world. He has already won the victory over the brokenness of this world. The darkness cannot overcome His light! And lest we think that statement is just a theological truth, St. Paul reminds us: 
We are all children of the light and children of the day.
We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.

I Thessalonians 5:5
In the light of that truth, I invite you to take on the 2024 Light Challenge: Today is the day to live as a child of the light, because we have met the One who is the Light- Jesus the Christ. Today, love as He loves. Today, forgive as He forgives. Today, give generously as He poured out His life for us. Today, claim His joy even in the midst of the world’s sadness. Today, fall on your knees to pray for light to penetrate your neighbor’s darkness. Today, walk in His light… see yourself in His light… take on the next challenge trusting His light. Today, reflect His light to a world desperate for hope. Be a child of the light because you are loved by the One who is light.

Last Christmas when it came time to take down our Christmas lights, we chose to leave them up and on. They have shone throughout the year defying the darkness. I love coming home at night from a long day at work to find the welcoming light of Christmas. This year, when we pack up the Christmas decorations, we plan to leave our lights out and on to shine in the darkness. Even if you don’t leave your Christmas lights on your bushes, I hope you will join me in the 2024 Light Challenge, that our lives might be mobile Christmas light displays, bringing the Savior’s light into the darkness.

With you, learning how to reflect the Savior’s light to the world,
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