In true 2020 fashion, the lights on our Christmas tree withered over the weeks between the post-Thanksgiving-decorate-for-Christmas-tradition and today.
The day after Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of boasting about how pretty our tree looked.
Well, not just the tree...but, the house looked fairly stunning, as well.
By now, I ought to know better than to boast about anything (but, I'm a sloooooowwwww learner).
BECAUSE, then....the lights on the pre-lit started going out.
One. Section. At a time.
Little by little we added strands of extra lights....
Then the lights at the tippy-top went KAPOOT!
I went to town to purchase yet another strand.
No more Christmas lights in town (the perils of small town living)...
So, dear-husband began to restring some of the lights by spreading them out further;
...after all, we had company coming for dinner, and a partially lit tree WOULD NEVER DO!
I shrugged my shoulders...OK! We'd manage (insert emoji and long sigh)...
Side note: I like lots of lights on a tree. The more lights the more my spirit is lifted, and the more Christmas wraps me up in its magic! I am a bit child-like in that way!
However, the next morning, the entire bottom third of our tree SAT IN DARKNESS (and, because the bottom is SO WIDE, it feels more like half of the entire tree)!
There is no fixing it.
The Christmas tree is no longer lovely.
It threatened to strip away the Christmas magic.
Yes, there's a little bit of light still sparkling amidst the darkness.
But, gotta be honest; it's sparse!
And, did I mention I LIKE LIGHTS, LOTS OF LIGHTS!?!?
Here's where you reckon I'm going to make the analogy about how Jesus came to a world sitting in darkness, to be the light of the world. Right?
It's true, but no...
Here's, probably, where I refer to the time Jesus acknowledged to His disciples that, indeed, He is the Light that Isaiah prophesied would come to lead people out of darkness. Right?
Again, true, but no...
Here's where I mention that Jesus also said that we, His children, those who "receive" Him, are also to be lights in the world, and for "heaven's sake" we aren't to hide our light under a bushel! Right?
Well, a little bit right.
My tree represents how I currently am seeing us, as Jesus-Followers during Christmas.
As we "attended" a candle lighting Christmas program last Sunday, I watched as the candle light spread from one candle to the next, lighting the entire auditorium in a robust glow.
That's the way it's supposed to be among believers.
We are to share the Light...
...to shine like stars in the universe for a crooked and depraved generation, holding out the Word of Life...
(Thank you, David Bates, for the use of your beautiful picture!)
Yet, instead of seeing that happen, it feels more like the lights are going out...one little bulb at a time.
The Christmas season seems to amplify this from year to year.
As secularism and commercialism ramp up from about August through December, the real meaning of Christmas seems to be drowned out.
Followers of Jesus easily get lost in the chaotic rhythm of it all: the shopping, decorating, the music, cooking, the parties, the Hallmark moments, the trimmings, the trappings, the wrapping, and the noise.
But, during a season when it should be the easiest for us to convey the message of the gospel, and the reason we celebrate a baby in the manger, the holiday spirit seems to drown out the nudges of the Holy Spirit to spread the Light.
Oddly enough, all the hustle and bustle lull us into a sense of complacency.
I get it.
I see it in myself; and, I want to make sure I'm taking care of this little personal light bulb. I don't want it to go out, maybe causing a shortage in a third of the tree...
With this on the forefront of my brain, I turned yesterday to read one of the devotionals in an Advent book I've enjoyed this year:
The author says far better what I am trying to say (his thoughts were timely and, purely, incidental, to my mental-ramblings).
So, if you don't mind, let me quote a few lines from David Mathis' devotional, "The Christmas We Didn't Expect."
First, from Scottish theologian Donald Macleod:
"Every year the world - and the church- experiences Christmas... (But) Christmas is a lost opportunity, a time when the world invites the church to speak and she blushes, smiles, and mutters a few banalities with which the world is already perfectly familiar from its own stock of cliches and nursery rhymes (from Glory to Golgotha, p. 9)."
Then, Mathis continues:
"When the world makes so much of a holiday once so deeply Christian, and thus tacitly invites Jesus-Followers to speak, let's not blush, smile, and mutter...let's speak with clarity and conviction.
Let's talk in concrete terms about why we celebrate, and whom. Let's speak about the day when God became man, without ceasing to be God, that he might live among us as fully human and die the death we deserved.
Let's make it plain in our homes, and among our extended families, and for our friends, that Christmas is not just a sweet story for children, but, as Macleod says, 'the perforation of history by One from eternity."...the intrusion and eruption of the Eternal into the existence of man.'
Christmas has a spectacular light that the seasonal glitz snd glamor threatens to obscure, but it is much too precious to let it be dimmed... (D. Mathis)"
🎶 "This little light of mine...I want to let it shine!"🎶
Let's start taking advantage of special holy-days and let our light shine - bright, clear and vocally!
Merry Christmas to all!