One of my favorite things this time of year is the lights: Christmas lights. Maybe it’s because it gets dark so early now. Maybe it’s because I don’t generally like things dark. But I do enjoy sitting with no lights on in the house but the Christmas tree lights on. I like driving through Foundation Park and looking for Wanda. I like seeing the light poles adorned with twinkling lights. With the most hectic schedule I eagerly anticipate the candlelight singing of “Silent Night” in the church lit only by candles. Perhaps I like the lights so much because they are a reminder of Jesus, the Light of the world.
The prophet Isaiah says that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Is. 9:2). When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, St. John writes that He is the “True Light coming into the world. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” (John 1:5). Later, Jesus says of Himself, “I AM the Light of the World.” (John 8:12). Jesus is light: dispelling darkness, making things bright, even brighter than Christmas tree lights. Brighter than Rudolph’s nose. A Light so bright it destroys the shadows and darkness even of hopelessness, despair and death.
If we are honest we must admit we live in a pretty dark world at times. It’s dark with evil, however you define evil. We live in a world dark with sadness, suffering and sickness. We live in a world dark with despair. Some people are so hurting that they see nothing but darkness all around them. A darkness they so much want to fall into and maybe, seeing no hope, will try to plunge themselves into. We live in a world glaring with the harsh lights of a holiday that few understand. Outwardly, the world cranks up the wattage until it can match the Griswold’s house from “Christmas Vacation” while inwardly it is dying of sadness and gloom with bah-humbuggery and disgust at the whole thing.
Let us remember that into that darkness, angels appeared over Bethlehem. Into that darkness, the Word-made-flesh shows His face from a manger. Into that darkness, the Father places a star to guide magi. Into that darkness Jesus walks, head on. To shine the light of Himself to send our fears and hopelessness scurrying, retreating, fading, and wiping out shadows.
Jesus lights into your darkness too. Whatever that darkness may be: despair, doubts and unbelief. Just when it seems too much to take: families falling apart, death stealing our friends, hurt and sorrow around us. The great emptiness of the world’s Christmas. Into all of it, the Light of Christ shines for you. It is here when the Light of the World begins to glow and radiate forgiveness. Peace, light with no shadows, these are the gifts of the Light of the World. Jesus is the Light of the World. His gifts bring Light to rescue us from every darkness there is.
Maybe that’s why I like Christmas lights. They remind me of Jesus. And whether they give you a sense of wonder and peace or not, whether the whole Christmas extravaganza is something you relish or could do without, know this: Wherever there is darkness, the Light of Christ shines. Nothing can put it out. For He shines to bring His Light to you that you may be forever comforted and never afraid of the dark.
Peace, Love, Joy and Hope: