I have struggled with modern Christmas. If I don’t watch it, I turn into the Grinch, cynical at all the commercialism and stressing obligations. But my frustration with the neon light replacing the true Light only turns my own heart dark. Cold. In contrast, “I just hope every year that the Christmas message will sink into me deeper,” my 72-year old friend mused, thus quietly convicting my sour soul.
So what if the loud marketplace ignores the reason for the season?! Every heart that cherishes Him shines brighter than any creation of man. Illuminate me, Light of the world.
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
I keep reading this…
In the face of Jesus the Child, the One we celebrate at Christmas, I see vulnerability, trust, abandon, obedience… And I pray that His light will shine into any dark places in our hearts, that his warm glow will thaw what is cold, embrace what is lonely, calm what is stressed, and make us aware of the glory of God in those places this season.
He came as that vulnerable Child, so we would never have to question if He understands our fragility. In the face of Jesus, who left incomparable majesty behind to surrender Himself to human hands, I grasp afresh how precious and powerful vulnerability is.
Precisely because our stealthy self-efforts (neon light) are incapable of dispelling the oppression of darkness, precisely because I cannot muster the goodness to overcome my own cynical soul, precisely because none of us can breathe life to anything in this “land of the shadow of death,” Light itself descended here to illuminate from the inside out.
“The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.”
It comforts me immensely that He knowingly came to us walking in darkness. It eliminates shame. It eliminates pride. What we are, we can’t even see here, but He knows. Though His spark is catching fire in me, the shadows of this fallen world and of my own broken nature still try to scare me. When I wake up in the night, my heart racing from a fear I can’t identify, His Word is my nightlight:
“If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”
The warmth of His Daylight is precisely for this darkening, commercialized realm. Unaware of Him, it is no wonder we create our own neon imitations. Darkness is unbearable. That’s why He came. That’s why I now keep my heart warm by His fire, so I can be one little Christmas light reflecting Him to the world He so adores.
“For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
O come, let us adore Him.