“This was the real light—the light that comes into the world and shines on all people.” [John ch1 v 9]
I love the lights at Christmas, everyone who knows me is aware of how excited I get at the switching on of the Christmas tree in the church. It most likely goes back to my childhood when the tree was not put up until Christmas Eve and we woke up to the magical tree and lights. Of course, they were not the fine Fairy Lights that we see today or the flashing L.E.D.’s they were rather large and limited in colour but no less wonderful for that. The lights which brighten up the darkness of the different places in the house and in the tree, herald Christmas and the beauty of them in the home just makes us glad. The lights in the street when all is dark around are marvellous and send a lovely glow while we go out and about, it just cheers us up.
We got Christmas lights on the trees from Martin Luther [he whose writings started the Reformation]. He was walking home one night in winter and found walking through the forest rather dark and frightening he looked up and saw the brightness of the stars as they glittered in the sky and on the frost of the trees. He took courage and thought of them aslights from heaven sent to guide and comfort just as a Star led the Wise Men to Bethlehem. God was telling him not to be afraid. On his way home he brought a tree and placed candles on it to remind him of the glittering stars and the help that he was given by God.
As we drape our Christmas lights wherever you like to put them and they light up the darkness or brighten up a corner we become aware of the darkness and light in our homes. It is the same with our lives, very few people have a perfect life, or a perfect Christmas for that matter. Plan as much as we like, work ourselves to a frenzy organising and forward thinking, but not everything goes to plan but, it is not the end of the world, maybe no-one even notices. The same with our everyday lives, there is always a dark moment, and goodness me this year we have all had dark moments for whatever reason.
It could be said that without the darkness we do not appreciate the light. Certainly, we have learned to appreciate the simple things of life, the support of family, neighbours, and friends. We have also learned to appreciate nature and how wonderful it is to sit in the garden or walk in our own community to see all of creation around us. Now living through the darkness of restrictions, we appreciate even the small freedoms we slowly gain.
Jesus is the light of the world and we celebrate His birth with light in so many ways, with candles and fine lights, with Advent Wreathes and Advent Crowns. So, as we” switch on” or “light up”, we could also think of ourselves as lighting up with the light of Jesus within us. Invite Him into your life and celebrations this year. Take time to read the Christmas narrative in Matthew or Luke and think about how it was for Mary and how dark it might have seemed to her at times. Or Joseph whose plans had completely been swept aside. For their families and community, what was the worst that could have happened? Take heart also from that narrative when they are guided by God and they not only fulfil the prophecies but find a light in their lives which surpassed anything they could have dreamed of.
We can light up the dark places around us by praying for those who have no faith and are struggling with life. Likewise, we can pray for those who find it difficult to come to God even though they know in their heart they need Him, pray that they will find the courage to seek God out this Christmas Season. We can pray that Christians in celebrating for the correct reason help others to see the Love of God in them. So as we shine out with Christ in us, may we spread that light into our society and show that the Christian Faith is a wonderful living thing, a pure light shining in the darkness.
LET US PRAY
LOVING AND EVER FAITHFUL GOD,
We give thanks to You our Father, Your Word has come among us, In the Holy Child of Bethlehem. Grant that the light of faith may illumine our hearts and shine in our words and deeds.
We praise You for happy days, Gatherings of friends and family, Gifts given and received, Greetings exchanged, Cards sent and friendships renewed, We thank and praise You For special food and drink, For decorations and bright lights, For holidays and games and music and laughter. But above all, for the gift of Your Son, For His coming in love, born into poverty To call us To you, to walk with us in our journeys of faith
Almighty God we know that nothing is beyond Your power and no one is beyond Your care. And so we ask that You might be present in situations that trouble us.
We seek healing for our broken planet, wisdom for those whose decisions change its course, and energy for those who raise awareness of the damage we do.
We seek healing for our broken humanity, compassion for those on the margins, welcome for those who are strangers, courage to speak out and determination to do things differently.
We seek healing for our broken selves, strength to recognise our shortcomings, humility to ask for help, the re-emergence of hope and the simple joy of trusting You.
Lord, we seek Your light in whatever darkness befalls us. We ask, too, that we might be that light for others and that, through our actions, others might come to know Your love. In Christ’s name, Amen
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