I know that Christmas has come and gone, but in the hectic goings on I forgot to post. Here it is now
Yup there are Scrooges (I said Scrooges right, not Stooges?) there are Scrooges out there, and I will admit–I am one. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, that wouldn’t make sense me being a pastor and all. It’s not all the gift-giving and receiving that bothers me; I can get past some of consumerism because there’s more to it; I know there can be genuine expressions of generosity. And It’s not the parties and festivities, after all we need to eat and eating together is good for a sense of community. God is after all always calling us together around tables to eat with one another.
No, I’m a Scrooge about something else—and that is LIGHTS—strings of lights draped on houses, in trees, all over bushes, put on frames to
depict soldiers, teddy bears, santas, and reindeers, and sleighs, and presents, and angels, and just about anything else we can imagine. Ugh. Lights burning bright sometimes incessantly day and night.
Now I know the origins of this attitude of mine. It comes from my father who made sure that we turned off the lights in the house, lights burning electricity and burning through money. It also comes from my faith, for I believe that God has given us only so much coal and air and resources in this world. On top of that, just a few weeks ago I even overheard a woman on the phone gossiping and complaining, going on and on about a neighbor whose lights weren’t quite up to her satisfaction. Where is the Christmas spirit, where is the Christian love there?
Now I must admit that there are lights on the Brown family Christmas tree, and I know that these lights at their best are not a competition and are an attempt to express our joy—our Christmas Spirit.
Storyteller Lynette Ford shares a story about Christmas lights:
One Christmas, when I was still too young to do much more than get in the way in the kitchen, I sat on Great-Grandpop’s thin lap and looked at the pictures in the funny papers. The house was full of the sounds and smells of the season: Mom and the womenfolk fussing over the dishes and dessert; the menfolk arguing as they reminisced, each with his own version of the same story; cousins sneaking pieces of leftover turkey, its scent mingling with sweet potato and cinnamon, breads and pies, mints and after-dinner coffee, and my Great-Grandpop explaining the newspaper’s cartoons to me.
I interrupted him and asked the question that had been on my mind ever since we’d walked the many steps to his front door, “Great-pop, how come you don’t have lights on your house like the other people do? The neighbors have lights in their windows and on their porches. And some of ‘em even put white lights on the roof! But you and Great-Grandma just have the reg’lar ol’ lamps on, and nobody can see your Christmas tree. Why don’t you put lights outside, or put your tree close to the window?”
Great-Grandpop smiled; he didn’t answer right away. It seemed like he was waiting for just the right words to come to him. Then he put his lips close to my ear, as if he was sharing a secret. Great-Grandpop said, “Little girl, you can’t see Christmas on the outside of things, no matter how many lights you put up. Christmas isn’t in the lights; it isn’t in all the decorations. Christmas makes its own light, inside. You have to come inside, and get yourself warmed up inside. When you feel that warmth inside you, that’s when you really see Christmas.”
We gather this night not just to look at pretty trees. We are called together to be touched by the light of Christ. That’s the light that the prophet Isaiah calls us to, that is the great light that shines in the darkness, that is—the light of God that shines in this world at the coming of the Christ child, born into this dark, dark world. The Light of God that we will hear about in our scripture passage from John, that light that comes whose brightness illumines every deep dark corner of this world, of our hearts, of our souls. That light shines best not with LED, but with LLL – lives lit by love. Tonight as we sing that beautiful Christmas carol Silent Night, holding the light of candles, when we lift our lights high, let us remember that, take it with us, allow it to kindle the peace and trust of God’s love deep within us, let us truly reflect the light of God our Savior in our lives, and ignite the true light of Christ’s coming in our world—the true Christmas lights. Amen