Christmas lights, keep shining on

Robin Webb

I love Christmas lights! It’s become a family tradition that on the day after my daughter’s birthday at the end of November I’m allowed to put up our Christmas decorations. This includes the Christmas tree in the living room covered in lights and decorations; lights strung across the ceiling, lights hung over door frames, and illuminated stars hanging from the ceiling. Bringing light to every dark corner!

…and that’s just the inside! On the outside of our house, we put up a lit nativity scene complete with angels and stars – plus Christmas trees, ‘Merry Christmas’ signs, and Santa on his sleigh with his reindeer – all blazing lights into the dark winter sky. And then, of course, we drape lights around the trees and front hedge – lighting up the street for everyone to enjoy!

And to put your mind at rest before you report me to the council or the police, our neighbours love it, and many of them join in… although not quite to the same degree!

Winter is such a dark time, and it seems darker than ever this year. The COVID restrictions limit our movements and stop us doing many of the things we would usually do during the lead into Christmas, including in-person carol services and large parties or gatherings with friends and colleagues.

But as I pass house and office Christmas lights on display, and Christmas trees set up with sparkling lights, many of them in random places on street corners, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words recorded in the Bible in the gospel of John. Jesus said, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world” (John 12:46 (NLT).

I’m struck by how much impact these small Christmas lights have as they light up the dark afternoons and evenings. Each of these LED bulbs is smaller than a pea and yet they shine so brightly. And together they make a huge impact, dispelling the darkness.

I’m also reminded of Jesus’ challenge to each of us to be a light: “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14 (NLT)). It’s a challenge to shine out His love to our families, our friends, our neighbours, and those we don’t yet know in our communities.

We’ve heard so many amazing stories during the last nine months of the pandemic, telling how Church Army Evangelists have brought light and practical good news to the communities where they are based. Many of these evangelists have gone to live among the communities they now seek to serve and bring good news to – this reminds me of Jesus coming to live among us.

So, how can you be a light to the world this Christmas time?

Who can you be a light to in your street? In your community? You don’t need to cover your house with hundreds of lights (unless you want to!) but who is God prompting you to speak to? To offer a friendly smile, an encouraging word, an invitation to have a shared coffee over the garden fence? Or maybe just a listening ear?

Let’s be lights this Christmas.

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