all in at Advent

The street is a dark one, no streetlights, no sidewalks, small houses on what would be considered a side street – not a main road nor a busy one. As I drive down this somewhat lengthy stretch of street which ends in a four way stop intersection, I have no expectation other than that this route will take me to my destination. For me, it is not about the journey on this dark December night, it is about getting to my destination quickly. Well, it was until I came upon the unexpected. Out of the darkness appeared a house covered in Christmas lights, and I do mean covered. Also brightly lit were the front yard, side yards, back yard and the fence around them. The lighted displays in the front yard were more than my eyes could take in while driving. This house was truly an oasis of light in a desert of darkness.

My first thought as I experienced this vision of multi-colored lights everywhere, was not a thought at all, but a feeling, a feeling of unexpected joy because I had no expectation of coming into the presence of such a large light display on this dark street. My second and subsequent thoughts were, “how much will the electric bill be?”, followed by “how long did it take them to put all this together?” and “how much work does it take to keep all the lights lit and working?” It gets dark here around five pm and not light again until about eight in the morning, so these lights are on for a long time. And they do this the entire month I assume. The surprise of discovering these dazzling lights in the middle of the darkness made my heart glad (I didn’t even know it was sad until I saw the lights and felt my spirits lift) – these Christmas lights totally transformed this ordinary house and yard into something magical and extraordinary.

And they did something else, too. They lit up the street and the neighborhood, as well. Whoever lives in that house, they are bringing light into the neighborhood at Christmas time. This reminds me of Jesus’s admonition to us –

“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)

Light is not meant to be hidden away, but to be shared with others to benefit them. Jesus is the light of this world. I want to reflect His light in order to share it with other people. It’s like the song says, “It is better to light just one little candle, than to stumble in the dark!” That’s what the people in this house of the many Christmas lights are doing – those around them are in darkness so they lit a candle, so to speak. However, in this case the candle is more like ten thousand Christmas light bulbs! They have gone all in for Advent. They are bringing light into the darkness. They are preparing the way for the celebration of the Christ Child’s birth. They are lighting the way for others to follow as we each prepare by making room and letting God in to light up the dark places in our lives.

Jesus’s birth was described in this way by the prophet Isaiah –

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death (or land of darkness) a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before You as people rejoice at the harvest,” (Isaiah 9:2-3)

Jesus’s birth is the reason we remember and rejoice – rejoice that He came, rejoice that our Creator God loves us so much that He sent His Son, rejoice that God kept His promise to His people even after centuries of silence, rejoice that God always remembers us and desires that we would remember His great gift to us, Jesus, and that we would receive Jesus with rejoicing and great joy. (unlike the people of Jesus’s day)

“He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11)

I don’t want to make that same mistake – I want to be all in at Advent, like the house of the many Christmas lights, in preparing to remember, to receive and to celebrate all over again God’s gift to me of Jesus and all the other good gifts God’s presence brings. Part of my getting ready is preparing the way for Jesus to enter into the lives of others. This means I will need to take Jesus’s light to some pretty dark places. There are neighborhoods where many or most of the homes are lit with Christmas lights. They already have light. Like this special house of the many Christmas lights, I want to be light in the dark, out of the way, less traveled places that need light to enter in and make its home there.

Eventually, the light will overcome the darkness. You and I just have to let the light in, not to keep it for ourselves, not to hide it under a bowl, but so that “others will see the light and praise our Father who is in heaven.” Advent is the time to let the light come in and to let that same light shine out into the darkness so that it can lead many to the Christ Child whose birth Christmas celebrates. Like the star above the stable, God’s light is here to lead us to His Son and to eternal life. We just have to make room and let the light in!

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

who brings the light? who is the light? none other than the King of Glory Himself, the Lord Almighty! Advent is the time to prepare Him room and to let Him in – the Lord comes – “let earth receive her King!”

sincerely, Grace Day

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