Friday, December 4, 2009

THE LIGHTS OF CHRISTMAS -- Devotional for December 2, from "Good Seeds"

“The people that walked in darkness saw a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).

The lights are coming on all around us. Right after Thanksgiving houses and yards, as well as city streets and businesses, start bursting with the colorful lights of Christmas. Nighttime is never so beautiful as at Christmas time. Our Christmas Eve family tradition is a common one: we get in the car and head for the neighborhoods reputed to have the brightest and prettiest (gaudiest!) lights and decorations. Happily for us, there are plenty of homeowners out there who are glad enough to accommodate us, and feed our need for lack of speed, so we can get a full view and go, “Ooh, Ahh!” Sometimes we say, “Oh look, there’s one that shows the real meaning of Christmas!” Yes, there are still lots of folks, whether Christians or no, we do not know, who are willing enough to put out bright and beautiful versions of that first Christmas scene, of the holy family surrounded by shepherds and animals and Wise Men (which surely wasn't so bright, but dirty, dismal, and dark, even if brightened a bit by the miracle star overhead). Still, as we meander through the neighborhoods we are accosted by the more dominant Santa Claus -– and commercialized -- versions of Christmas. But the common denominator of it all is light, lots of bright, colorful, “huge-electric-bill-but-who-cares-it’s-Christmas” light! Long ago Isaiah prophesied of another light, one not measured in earthly lumens but in heavenly glory – not manifesting in candlepower but in Holy Spirit power. The prophecy spoke of people whose inner darkness had been untouched by the SUN in the sky, who would someday be enlightened within by the SON from on high! And how can we who have experienced the light of Jesus deep in our hearts be satisfied with any of these lesser outward illuminations, for His salvation lights our way throughout our earthly walk, all the way to heaven. Jesus is the light of the world -- but most people still walk in darkness. Let’s go back two thousand years: Jesus had come and gone. The Scrooge of the day was a religious unbeliever named Saul of Tarsus. He followed a dark path in his persecution of Christians. But on his trek through the Damascus neighborhood he came across a Christmas light so bright it blinded him – but saved him, too! Hear the account, in his own words: “And it happened that as I made my journey, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light” (Acts 22:6). Still today there are those who though surrounded by bright holiday lights have only darkness in their souls. They, too, have yet to experience the true light of Christmas. What better time of year to introduce a friend to Jesus, the light of the World!

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