BE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

28 11 2016

be-christmas-lights-small

This coming Sunday, my beloved wife Terri and I will be celebrating our 34th Wedding Anniversary. Getting married in December, one of our first purchases together was a Christmas tree. Getting ready to decorate our tiny little apartment, our strong opinions of how to get it done led to our first disagreement as husband and wife. Our spat was over the same battle that is played out in families across the nation at this time of year and it all boils down to this simple little question: “White lights or Colored lights?” Terri is a white light kind of gal and I am the bigger, the better and the more gaudy, the greater! I even have my own antique silver tree complete with shiny bright ornaments and the color wheel! Last night I sat in my chair staring for hours enthralled by the colors and mesmerized by the magic.

 Today, I am challenging us to “Be Christmas Lights!” We Christians should be the brightest bulbs blinking up and down the blocks that we live upon! Jesus came from Heaven to Earth bringing the gift of light with the goal of shining it boldly in the midst of a dark place! The Scriptures tell us that the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14 The Message). Advent is a season of anticipation. Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” meaning arrival, and traditionally is the 4 week period prior to Christmas. Advent is the expectation that the Lord will come again to us in the present day and his purpose is to birth inside each and every one of us God’s Laser Light Show that allows us to shine our spots courageously on Jesus Christ.

 We know that Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is the foundation of Christianity.  It clearly was the event that forever changed the trajectory of human history and it is the greatest and most powerful miracle of all time. Without the Resurrection, Jesus could not have been the Messiah. Without the Resurrection, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that we are to be pitied as fools! But there would have been no Resurrection without the Birth of Jesus! Christmas is the celebration that God Almighty willingly chose to become God incarnate, literally God in the flesh. His Birth was one like no man had expected! Jesus came as Lord of the Universe in the fragile posture of a vulnerable baby! He came on the scene and was not exempt from the struggles of humankind. If Jesus sliced his finger, he bled. If he was hungry, he needed to be fed. If he walked too far during the day, his feet hurt! If God had chosen to be just “Our Father who art in heaven,” then he might always have remained a distant deity. To those who have never met Jesus personally, God can still appear to be a harsh, non-emotional, authoritarian figure that dishes out rewards or punishments at will. But encountering a God who looked and acted like Jesus blew all the stereotypes straight to kingdom come. In Jesus, we have the picture of a God who intentionally positions himself as a mere servant, identifying with the lowest of lows, the least, and the lost. Jesus is the down-to-earth God, demonstrating inside human flesh, the full extent of the love, humility, obedience, and sacrificial lifestyle that we as followers of the Lord are also in turn called to live out and embrace.

 When Believers allow God to ignite the light inside of us, it results in us walking, talking, living, and loving like Jesus. Many of us right now may be struggling to feel any sense of Advent anticipation. How many of you can honestly say at this point of your life, that this is exactly what you’d thought your adventure would be when you dreamed of it as a child so long ago? If you’re that person, congratulations! I’m not sure I would have signed up for this if I knew what was going to come!

Perhaps this Advent you’re battling the pain of discouragement and depression. You may be experiencing the devastating effects of betrayal and broken trust. You could be in the midst of a transition in employment. Maybe the doctor has informed you about the result of a biopsy, and it has sabotaged your hope and shredded your faith. Take heart! Immanuel, God is with us, and via the Holy Spirit, he is actively moving within us and if he is with us and in us, then the creative power of God can use our weakness to highlight His strength! We don’t have to wait until we are dead to see the glory of God exploding in vibrant arrays through every ounce of us. His creative juices are churning and maybe, if we’d expect it, what is about to arrive on the scene this December is the miracle that the Lord is about to birth in and through you.

 God can light up the night with whatever is placed within his might! Take heart because with the Lord there is always real hope! Jesus longs to ignite the light in his church. How bright do you want to burn this week? How many of you still decorate the outside of your houses with lights? Anybody go to the lengths that Chevy Chase did in the Movie, “Christmas Vacation?” I kind of wish we would keep the lights up all year! Lights on trees, candles in windows, radiance everywhere delights even blasé residents. And it is at night; when you move away from the man-made manufactured artificial lights can you truly see the God decorated Universe with its millions and millions of stars. How many never see the true lights of the Holy because they have plugged in way too many man made appliances that only get in the way of human beings catching the eternal light of day? Sometimes, it has been the darkest days of my journey that has allowed me to see the brightest side of my God!

 It is only God’s Light that gives us the possibility for us to discover our light which keeps us from crashing and burning on the highway.  Do you ever try to drive your car at night without the headlights on? Have you ever noticed somebody driving without their lights on? Do you know that the only reason they can do that and get away with it is because they are benefiting from the lights of others? If you drive a car at night without your headlights on, in the middle of nowhere, you will probably crash. Why? It takes the light to reveals the truth of the things that are smack dab in our paths waiting for us to crash right into them. In the dark, you will not have enough truth to steer the car safely. I believe that God has us Christians strategically planted along the parkway to give hope to those who are presently driving at 1000 MPH on the highway to hell! Christmas allowed the rising of the Son so that we could be aware of the difference between night and day! Jesus came to show us the way and that in his dazzling light, he gives joy. That is true literally. In places where there are only a few hours of daylight at certain times of the year, many suffer from depression. We need light for joy. God is the source of all beauty and joy. God alone has the life, truth, and joy that we lack and can’t generate ourselves. God loved us so much that he allowed his light to go out on the cross so that in the end, our lights never would! Our colors now are illuminated forever! Even when we lose the game, the light still shines. Even when we let down our guard, the light still shines. Even when we lack the gifts, the light still shines. Even when we leave the graveyard, the light still shines. The promises of Christmas cannot be discerned unless you first admit that you can’t save yourself or even know yourself without the light of his unmerited grace in your life. This is the foundational truth from which we can proceed to learn the hidden meanings of Christmas. When we allow our hearts to become ignited with God’s love, the light generated by that union has the power to change lives. Your light can lead somebody safely home this Christmas.

Whether you are the white lights type or the big bubble bulb variety, you need to allow God to use your light to showcase his arrival this Advent.  One act of love can change the atmosphere in any environment. The frenzied pace of the contemporary Christmas season that includes buying gifts, hosting parties, cooking, and more can cause us to miss the most important gift: relationships. Let’s all take time in this season to be lights by being fully present to any of those men and women driving in darkness. Be Christmas lights and lead someone safely home to life.


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