The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent by God whose name was John. . . . He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God . . .  (John 1:5-12)

 

Recently, our family had an enlightening experience. Two of our granddaughters, ages 8 and 11, had the choice of seeing the Santa Claus parade, or coming with us on a drive-through “Journey to Bethlehem” at a local church. We were delighted when they chose to be with us as we wound our way through live depictions of Mary and Joseph’s journey, their destination, and finally the cross — the goal of Christ taking human flesh.

Then Grampie took the show on the road, so to speak. He toured us through a large subdivision replete with seasonal lights and displays. As we drove slowly down each street, he asked the girls to look for anything that related to what they had just seen. It was a nearly futile search. Out of dozens of homes, they found one star, one angel and one creche. The creche was especially hard to spot, since it was sitting in the background of a large front yard behind Santas, snowmen, reindeer, and lots of flashing and sequential lights.

“What does that have to do with Christmas?” Grampie asked about all these decorations. “Yes,” Aurora agreed, “what does that have to do with Christmas?”

It was an illuminating question, in a season of countless lights, about the true light that came into the world: you know, the One it’s supposed to be all about. Perhaps we agree that Christmas has been very successfully hijacked by interests that have nothing to do with Jesus. But what can we do to counter this ever-increasing tendency?

As Christians, we’re called to be witnesses to the light. Witnesses testify, and they do it intentionally. They do it to get at the truth. The truth is that many of us have been subverted by the culture around us and drawn to lights that send a false message, that exalt ordinary things far about our extraordinary Savior. But it looks so innocuous. It’s just a bit of whimsy. It doesn’t really matter — does it?

How do I proclaim the reason for Christmas when I put reindeer on my lawn? How do I honor what Christ has done by putting Santa Claus on display? How does what I choose to light up help my neighbors re-focus on the angel’s message of good news which shall be for all people? How does what I display — and what I don’t — point to the true Light that first appeared at Christmas?

Father, please help me to consider carefully how I celebrate every part of the Christmas season, so that Your light will shine in the darkness, even through me.