Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let There Be Lights.....

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  - Matthew 5:14-16

Unlike Clark Griswold I've been a little reluctant to put Christmas lights up.  I'm no Scrooge but as a new homeowner I am a bit flummoxed as to how to most appropriately decorate our house for Christmas.  What's too much?  What's not enough?  What color?  How many?  Why waste money this year on what I might not use next year?   Megan has decorated the inside of our house beautifully but the whole dilemma/drama of how to best decorate the roof (etc.) continues.   Thus it's Dec. 15th and it's dark at 2428 Oak Lane.

Can I make a decision already?  I  did a little research for inspiration....

The tradition of using small lit candles to light up Christmas Trees dates back to at least the middle of the 17th century.  The tradition slowly caught on (fire?) in Germany and spread throughout Eastern Europe.  As one might imagine immigrants carried the tradition to America where, with the advent of electricity, the first strand of Christmas lights was displayed in NYC in 1882 by an employee of Thomas Edison.  Still far too expensive for the average American, lights didn't replace candles until the 1930's when mass production began of Christmas lights began.

I've heard it said by parents to children, "how else will Santa know where to find our house?".    In this instance lights seem to serve as sort of a landing strip for the bearded-fat-man-gift-giver.   But it seems to me, historically, lights at Christmas symbolize the life of the Christian.   

Early Christians were persecuted for having worship gatherings. A candle in the window signified where worship would be occurring for Christians in a community.  Under the threat of death Christians continued to "shine a light" in order that they might gather to worship God and that He might add to their numbers daily.

Over two millennial later and under far less persecution the same question ought be asked of The American Christian:  How else will people know Christ unless He shines His light through our lives?  Being indwelt with His Holy Spirit we worship God with our lives and like Christmas lights through which electricity rushes we become conduits for the love of God.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. - 2nd Cor. 4:16

Over 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied how God would send His light into the world.....

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; 
I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.  
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, 
to free captives from prison and to release 
from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. 
- Isaiah 42:1, 6-7

Released from the dungeon of darkness!  Praise God for His eternal offer of parole from the prison of the self to eternal union with Him.  He is indeed the giver of all good things......

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. - James 1:17

Coldplay has released a Christmas tune and, in the opinion of this writer, it's an instant classic!   With Gospel-heavy overtones it comes off more like a prayer for relational reconciliation.   Martin writes.....

Saying how I always loved you darling
And I always will....
 ...Those Christmas lights light up the street.  
Maybe they'll bring her back to me.  
Then all my troubles will be gone. 
Oh Christmas lights keep shining on

It's hard to miss that this was indeed God's plan in sending Christ to Earth - that in so doing He would win His bride (the church) to himself.  Christ's shining work continues to this day and because we are now plugged into the source of all true power we Christians are the lights called to keep shining on.  
May you shine His light this Christmas and then leave them up all year long!

This Week:

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   Spiritual Warfare and The Mind of Man (chaps. 6-10 of The Screwtape Letters)
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm) 

* The Magills - Wednesday Night at The Crossbrand Cowboy Church Youth Event

* The Magills - Thursday afternoon outreach at Douglas Elementary

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