Christmas Lights

Greetings from the heart of Downtown Memphis which is beginning to look a bit like Christmas!
Unbelievably we are now pretty much fully in the Christmas season. In fact, this Sunday is the first Sunday we will celebrate Advent in our worship service.
I love the Christmas season for so many reasons. One of those reasons is there is so much imagery and symbolism in our celebration that it makes it much easier to prepare a sermon series. This year we will be focusing on one particular image we find all throughout the Bible, especially in John’s Gospel. We are going to focus on Light. The series will is entitled “Christmas Lights”. I actually had mixed emotions about naming the series, “Christmas Lights”. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas lights as do many of you, I’m sure. I can remember as a child how much fun it was to get in the car as a family and go out searching for the houses with the best light display and beg my dad to take us to the big house that even had music. When I finally had my own house and family, I was excited about being able to begin our traditions of lighting the house and our own tree. Well, that is where the hate part of my relationship with Christmas lights came in. After many years of lighting our Christmas tree and our home, I now fully understand why there are so many homes that have almost no lights at all. Putting up Christmas lights is hard and unbelievably frustrating!!! In fact, I insist on being the only one in the room when I am putting the lights on the tree. I would rather there not be a record of what I might say or do in the process.
The Gospel writer, John, tells us Jesus (the True Light) broke into the darkness of our World and our lives to draw us to himself and provide us not just life direction, but Life itself. This True Light is absolutely beautiful and stirs up within us desires to draw near and experience it’s warmth and glow. The scriptures even tell us clearly that when Jesus came as the Light of the World, he also invites us to become children of the light and inherit his mission of spreading this light everywhere we can. This work of becoming Christmas Lights while being the most satisfying and joy producing mission in our lives is also often times difficult and frustrating. So often, we try and become light and shine light all on our own as if we were the source. When we do, we find our light fading and we just begin to try and survive our days in the midst of darkness.
Here’s the good news!! We are never called to produce the light necessary to bring light and life to others. Actually, any attempts we make on our own to produce the light we need always fall short and end up as counterfeit lights leading us nowhere. We are called to daily draw closer and closer to the True Light, Jesus. Allowing him to break through our own darkness and transform us so we may be able to reflect his light to those around us. That is one of the primary messages of Christmas. Embrace Jesus and let him pierce the darkness of your life as scary as that may be. He will in turn make you a beautiful Christmas Light pointing everyone around to the source of life, Jesus.

Grace and Peace,