See that picture? One of the lights is shining, and one is not . . . but I digress. I'll get back to that presently.
We've been talking this week about preparing our hearts for Christmas, and today's post is the final one. The last way to prepare is this: turn on the lights. You read it correctly!
One of the warmest, most special memories that I have from Christmases past is that of lying down on the floor just under the edge of the decorated Christmas tree with our kiddos. We would gaze up through the branches, and study the ceiling as well. The play of the lights on the ornaments, the branches, and the ceiling, was something very wonderful to behold. It was a quiet activity, except for when one of us would point out to the other an especially beautiful shimmer of light, or a glistening ornament that caught our attention. Some would say that we needed to get a life, but we truly enjoyed that once-a-year beauty.
Our Lord Jesus called Himself the Light of the World. But He also called for us, His followers, to be a light as well. And Paul echoed that in his letter to the church at Philippi:
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:16)
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. (Phi. 2:14-15)
The world without Christ is a world in deep darkness. I think that at no other time do we as believers have a better opportunity to shine for Him, than at Christmas. There are folks where we work, where our children and grandchildren go to school, and where we live, who don't really know what Christmas is all about. They may sing the carols and have a small idea that Christmas is connected with Jesus, but they don't know the whole story. The birth of Jesus has very little to do with their day to day lives.
Christians, then, have a chance at this season to shine clearly and beautifully for Him. Not to show off how "good" you are, and how "bad" they are, but to show them that the baby born in Bethlehem came to earth to change our lives --- to give us peace with God, and with each other; to give us a purpose for our life and life after death. It's our job to show them why He came, and to lead them to His light, and "dispel the darkness."
Does that sound easy? Um, no. We have to prepare ourselves to shine for Jesus. As we have discussed in previous studies, we have to pray: asking God to prepare us and to show us opportunities to share. This has to be important enough to us, for us to take time to think --- to think about what we will say when asked why our life and outlook are different.
So, now I've come full circle. Back to those lights at the top of the post. Are we going to be like the one that is lit and shining, or like the one that is not? Are we going to survive the Christmas season, or will we prepare our hearts for the most awesome Christmas ever -- by becoming a child again, by re-discovering the blessing of giving, and by shining like lights in a dark world? Let's allow God speak to our hearts today in our prayer time, and consider which kind of Christmas it will be for us.But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect... (I Peter 3:15)