“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness”—John 12:46 (ESV).
Although I’ve never watched the television show, it draws millions of viewers. Each episode of “The Great Christmas Light Fight” features different families or groups that create elaborate Christmas light displays. Chosen in advance by the producers, the contestants’ displays are judged on three categories: use of lights, overall design, and Christmas spirit. After judges review each display, the winner is awarded $50,000 and a trophy.
That’s a lot of money. I’m sure it goes a long way toward paying their electric bill and then some, including taxes on the prize. It would be interesting to learn how much of that money is left after bills and taxes are paid. And, of course, I wonder what the neighbors think.
If left on all night, do the light displays disturb their sleep? Does the loud music, usually accompanying these extravaganzas, require the neighbors to use ear plugs? Do they get tired of the traffic driving by to see this display of Christmas spirit?
The Spirit of Christmas
For some, it’s difficult to find the Christmas spirit, even in the best of times. However, in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic led to a public health emergency and an economic crisis. It’s unprecedented in most of our lifetimes, not only disrupting our daily lives but changing the way we celebrate this time of year.
Many have lost loved ones to this virus. People have been let go from their jobs. Businesses have closed their doors, some declaring bankruptcy. Many people have also been forced to seek help through food banks, a first time for some standing in line.
Because of the virus spread, families changed their holiday plans. Instead of the usual family gatherings with grandparents and other older relatives, many celebrated alone.
We’re Never Alone
Jesus. Immanuel. God is with us. We’re never alone. It’s when the decorations come down and the celebration of His birth is over that the real work begins for His disciples.
Considered one of the three greatest African-American preachers in the early 20th-century, Howard Thurman penned the following poem, titled “When the Song of the Angels is Stilled.”
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
When the Work of Christmas Begins
An updated version of this poem, written by Michael Dougherty, expanded on Thurman’s thoughts. Here is the final stanza of Dougherty’s version:
When we are back to our schedules
The work of Christmas begins.
To welcome the refugee,
To heal a broken planet,
To feed the hungry,
To build bridges of trust,
not walls of fear.
To share our gifts.
To seek justice and peace for all people.
To bring Christ’s light to the world.
Jesus is the light of the world. In several verses throughout scripture, Jesus proclaimed He was the light. In John 8:12, He said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life.”
Bringing His Light to the World
American evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining—they just shine.”
In Matthew 5:14-16 (The Sermon on the Mount), Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
To bring Him glory, we must continue the work of Christmas. It isn’t over. It’s only just begun. Let us welcome the refugee, do our part in healing a broken planet, feed the hungry, build bridges of trust not walls of fear, share our gifts, seek justice and peace for all people. In those ways, we can bring the light of Christ to the world.