I’m proud to announce that after twenty-nine years of marriage the Browns have finally learned how to go about decorating the house for Christmas. For many years we would be gone for the Thanksgiving holidays only to come home and hit the next week running full blast. By the time we found time the next weekend to put up a tree and string up lights there were only three weeks until Christmas.
But not this year. We put up the tree and lights the weekend before Thanksgiving. Both sons were at the house so I enlisted their help with the outside lights. Kris climbed the roof last year so Taylor got the job this year. (They’re finally at an age they say, “Dad, let us do that.” And I’m at an age I don’t argue.)
I started the string on the lower edges of the roof. Taylor climbed on top of the house to take over once we hit the higher pitches. Kris deftly lifted the string to Taylor with a special pole we purchased last year. We looked like a well-orchestrated Christmas play, each with his role and playing their part perfectly. We smiled proudly at our accomplishment and then left for the Thanksgiving holiday.
When we returned we noticed our neighbor had lights all over the place: along her roof line, around her trees, and even her swimming pool. Put up by professionals they were perfectly spaced apart. No drooping. No dragging. Perfect.
Then we looked at ours. They had tilted where they once were taut. They had sagged where they were once snug. It looked like three men who had been hitting the eggnog early had strung them. We left them as they were. At least they brightened things. In the dark days of Winter we need light.
In the dark days of life we need light. Matthew’s stories of the birth of Jesus gives us the light we need. Literally. He mentions the “star” four times in twelve verses. The star leads the wise men to Jerusalem. Herod questions the wise men as to when the star appeared. The star leads them from there to Bethlehem. And then we’re told that when they saw the star they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
Why all the commotion over a star? The interest was not so much in the star as in where the star would lead them. To a king. To the Christ. They endured an arduous journey in search of something to fill an ache inside that all of the world’s wisdom had not yet satisfied for them.
And once the star delivers them to Jesus it quietly disappears from the text. They probably did not notice. Their lives would now be brightened by Jesus. Light had come to their darkness.
You’ve been there, haven’t you? You’ve journeyed just like the wise men. You’ve looked into a dark night of doubt. You’ve followed signs that took you down foreign roads. You’ve searched for answers, maybe not in the stars or ancient documents but outside an emergency room or in the middle of a court proceeding or on the freshly manicured grass of a cemetery. And like them you’ve wondered if God was really “out there” or if you were just wandering on a journey to nowhere.
When your world is dark do what the wise men did. Look for the star. You can either see the darkness or the light. You can let your world be filled with hopelessness or hopefulness. Sometimes God uses the darkness to help us see the light.
On second thought I had decided to like our lights at our house. They weren’t perfect. They were a little crooked here and there. Kind of like life. But I’m going to look at them differently now. Especially since our neighbor sent her professionals over to straighten them out with new ones!
It was an unmerited Christmas gift. Kind of like Jesus. He is God’s perfect gift to us. So we’re going to let our lights remind us of him.
And so can you. When you look at the lights on your tree, your house, or your Christmas star this year let them remind you of the Christ-child. In a dark world you need light.
Question: Where do you need light in your life today?