Celebration of Light

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
–Isaiah 9:2

CHRISTMAS IS A SEASON OF WONDER AND JOY, a time of promise and hope—a celebration of light.  The Fall of Adam plunged mankind and all of Creation into spiritual darkness.  It is only in The Promise of God that The Light mankind so desperately needs and longs for will be known. Jesus Christ is that Promise.  Jesus Christ is that Light.  And He is The Light that we celebrate, not only in our Christmas celebrations, but in every act of worship, every song of praise, every deed of mercy done in Jesus’ name, every expression of God honoring work in the marketplace.  In fact, we not only celebrate The Light in these ways, we reflect The Light in these ways as redeemed sons and daughters of the King.  Jesus Himself said, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).

Yet the darkness persists today as it did in the days of Christ’s birth.  There are people still walking in darkness.  There are people still living in the land of the shadow of death.  And The Light still shines in the darkness whenever we, His people, redeemed image bearers of our Creator, live our lives openly in the midst of a lost world through the power of His Spirit as “the light of the world.”

However, the birth of Christ is not the only event celebrated at this time of year.  We call this the Holiday Season.  Beginning with Halloween, the calendar is crammed with parties celebrating ghouls and goblins and the amassing of candy for our already overstimulated children.  We feast on banquets of turkey and ham that are more about football than Thanksgiving, followed by more parties and more food through faith and culture celebrations of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa.  The season culminates with another food frenzied party night we call New Year.  But wait a minute.  We’re not quite done.  Super Bowl Sunday has become for many people as much of a holiday as any of the others.

We’re not necessarily talking about bad things here.  I thoroughly enjoy, and celebrate, some of these celebrations, but there is only one Holy Day that celebrates “Eternal Life.”  There is only one Holy Day that offers “Redemption.”  There is only one Holy Day that extends “Eternal Hope.”  Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration of miraculous light, but there is only one Holy Day at this time of year that celebrates ETERNAL Light. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. . . .
In Him was life, and that life was the LIGHT of men.
The LIGHT shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory,
the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.”  -John 1:1, 4-5, 14

This is what Christmas is all about.  But we often lose lost sight of that which is most important.  The Christ-honoring intentions of the historical man we know as St. Nicholas have been twisted and distorted until our image of the good-hearted man, motivated by compassion and the love of Christ has morphed into a bizarre mythological character with divine attributes belonging to God alone.  Now we have Santa hitching his sleigh, loaded with an endless supply of toys, to a team of magical flying reindeer delivering those toys as an omnipresent benefactor who knows the hearts and actions (good and bad) of all children everywhere.  The end result is that, even among those of us who openly proclaim that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” Christ often ends up ignored in the chaos of our celebrations and parties, or buried beneath the discarded wrappings that litter our floors, or simply lost in the mixed messages.

If the Light of the World is going to be seen this season, it will not be through the latest techy gadget, Hollywood, the media, commercial vendors, depleted check books and savings accounts, or our overflowing banquet tables and burgeoning refrigerators.  If the Light is not seen this Christmas it will be because people aren’t looking, or because Christians have not been careful. 

If we are to truly have a celebration of Light, you and I, and others Christians, must choose to worship Christ without rivals in the midst of a culture, and in the heart of a season, overcrowded with them—that is, if we desire Christ to be seen this Christmas.  We just might have to reprioritize a little.  Let us celebrate the One who is The Light!