“You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14a)
If you drive by my home in December you’ll see that I’m a bit excessive in decorating with outside Christmas lights. 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, two of which are 30 feet tall, and four are about 20 feet. The others are smaller trees, planted in recent years to compliment the larger, mature trees.
It takes me about three days to put all the lights in place. I think trees look extra nice when two types of bulbs are used on each tree — one a small, mini type of a single color, and a second that is larger and can be of multiple colors. I like to use some twinkling lights, and recently we’ve started using some LED lights that change color.
Over the years I’ve accumulated lots and lots of lights, and it’s always fun to be creative and try different color combinations.
We have a nativity scene too, with a white star on steel piping mounted to the chimney, way above the roofline. Granted, our place isn’t extravagant enough to compete for the $50,000 prize on the Great Christmas Light Fight television show, but I think it looks pretty good.
Winning a prize for decorating isn’t the reason for sprucing the place up for the holiday anyway. No, there are other reasons, like just having fun and wowing the grandkids. Our neighbors across the road told us that their four kids love to look out the windows at night, and the lights get them in the Christmas spirit. That’s cool.
The main motivation for all the work though, 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 cross, covered in mini white lights, with a red spotlight illuminating it. To me, without an emphasis on the Christ of Christmas, the holiday is merely a commercialized, pagan festival, devoid of meaning and spiritual significance.
So, at our home we do our part to remember and promote the advent of Jesus, and do so by emphasizing His cross. The white lights on the cross represent the pure, sinless nature of Jesus, and the red spotlight signifies the blood He shed at the crucifixion.
There are some small red lights clustered on the cross where the hands and feet of Jesus would have been when He was crucified.
You see, the Christmas trees in our yard serve as a backdrop to the illuminated cross. So, what does the cross have to do with Christmas?
Let’s face it, without the birth of God’s Son, there would not have been the sacrifice made on the cross to present God’s gift of forgiveness.
My favorite tree is a large blue spruce, which Larry Fisher moved from Don Chaffin’s tree farm to our house 12 years ago. It is decorated in the same colors as the cross, with vibrant white mini-lights and bright red LED’s. The colors are intended to symbolize the same theme as the cross, Jesus’ spotless purity and crimson blood.
All the lights are on timers, and come on around 5:30 p.m. and stay on for six hours.
All except that blue spruce with the red and white lights, and the cross. The tree stays illuminated until dawn, and the cross is on 24/7. The cross never goes out. That’s how I see the Christ of Christmas, His light never goes out either. Jesus lives forevermore.
Jesus told us (Matthew 5:14) 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, full of impure motive and brazen disobedience. We may think we’re okay, but the truth is, “There are none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). It is only by being forgiven that our heart can be kindled as a light to illuminate a dark world. It is Jesus, and Jesus only, who forgives, restores, and ignites us. And so, it is the birth of Jesus that I celebrate at Christmas.
I wonder what you do to keep Jesus in your holiday celebration? Do you have any creative ideas for emphasizing the true significance of this season?
Please let me know, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to see our lights, we’re one mile north of the drive-in theater on Route 134. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Merry CHRISTmas to all, and to all a good night!!
Dave Hinman is Pastoral Elder at Dove Church Wilmington.
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