I live about a mile past the old drive-in theater, on Route 134 in Wilmington. If you drive by my home in December, you’ll see I’m a bit opulent in decorating outside for Christmas. I don’t outline the house with strings of lights, which is fine for those who do, but I decorate evergreen trees in our yard. This year we have nine trees lit up, three of which are 25 to 30 feet tall, and six are 6 to 10 feet.
It takes approximately 50 hours to get the decorating done. I got an early start this year, when the weather was decent in October, and was completely finished the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was so tempting to light things up then, but tradition says to wait until after celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. So, I did.
At dusk on November 25, not long after the turkey and cranberry sauce, we held our Grand Illumination. The lights are set to timers on three circuits, to split the load and keep the circuit breakers from tripping. When the timers kicked on, our meter nearly spun off the house, the neighbor’s lights dimmed (just kidding), and I assumed a gleeful facial expression resembling Clark Griswold.
The place looked great, perhaps better than the 41 times I’ve decorated previously. Granted, our place isn’t extravagant enough to compete for $50,000 on the Great Christmas Light Fight, but I’m pretty pleased this year.
Winning a prize for decorating isn’t the reason for sprucing the place up anyway. The main motivation for all this work, is to do my little part to shine the light of Jesus at Christmas.
How is that?
At the front of the nine shining trees, is a tall cedar cross, covered in mini white lights, with a red spotlight illuminating it. I use this cross to highlight the Christ of Christmas. Unless we recognize Jesus, Christmas is merely a commercialized festival, and it completely overlooks the age-old spiritual significance of the celebration.
The white lights on the cross represent the pure, sinless life of Jesus, and the red spotlight signifies the blood He shed at the crucifixion. And there are some small red lights clustered on the cross where the hands and feet of Jesus would have been when crucified.
So, what does the crucifixion have to do with Christmas?
Let’s face it, without the birth of God’s Son, there could not have been his sacrifice, which provided God’s gift of forgiveness. Jesus’ birth, recognized at Christmas, led to his death and resurrection, celebrated at Easter. Let’s remember, the good news of Jesus is all about the cross of Calvary, not the manger of Bethlehem.
Jesus told us (Matthew 5:14a) that we are “the light of the world”. Our lives are intended to showcase the majestic beauty of relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The world is a dark place; sin abundant and evil abounding. It is only in forgiveness our hearts can be kindled to illumine this darkness. It is Jesus, and Jesus only, who forgives, restores, and ignites.
And so, it is both the birth of Jesus, and his death, that illuminates our Christmas lights.
Merry CHRISTmas to all, and to all a good night!
Dave Hinman is Pastor Emeritus, Dove Church Wilmington. He can be reached at [email protected] .