Blog 12.13.2021


It is an interesting tradition. I remember helping my dad when I was younger, and now that I have children, they also appreciate the effort and product of the winter routine. The tradition is adorning our house with strands of diminutive lights. The ritual is such a strange thing, and I can only imagine that it has been possible since the invention of the electric lightbulb. It would be dangerous and ineffective to drape candles all around our homes during the coldest and windiest portion of the year. However, I love the tradition because of the enchanted and delightful mood it creates. When the lights turn on, and a soft glow emits from the tiny bulbs, it takes me to a more peaceful, more pleasant state of mind. This year when I had put the final touches on the decorations, my children ran chaotically and enthusiastically around my yard; the excitement and joy were too much for them to try and contain. Squealing and laughing, it immediately filled my heart with delight.

Many cultures over the centuries have worshiped and revered the sun. There were solstice celebrations, and some cultures even offered human sacrifices to encourage the sun to continue shinning. Humans need light. We are drawn to it. It sustains us not only by allowing us to function but also by providing nutrients like vitamin D. Most things on this planet require light to survive (I would say all things, but I am unsure about creatures living in the depths on the ocean floor or dark caves). Because of this, it seems only natural for people to idolize the sun. It is the brightest light, but it also provides life to the earth. 

You would expect simple-minded humans to create a deity out of the sun. However, as God reveals Himself in the Bible, he does not present Himself as the sun. Instead, He makes it known that He is the creator of the sun. He speaks, and then light pops into existence. However, God often uses light as a symbol and metaphor for His actions and presence within the world. For the Israelites, as they wandered in the wilderness, He used the pillar of fire to guide them at night (Exodus 13:21). A beacon of providence and safety in an uncertain time in their history. Throughout the Bible, God used light to describe His establishments and activities within the lives of humanity. The Bible references and uses lamps and fire as this symbol of light, and God’s word itself is a symbol of light to His people and the world (Psalm 119:105). 

The most important symbol of light connects us with the Son of God. In his gospel, John writes, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). This statement is enormously significant. Not only is this one of the “ego emi” (I AM) statements of Jesus, thus asserting equality and oneness with the Father. It is also a declaration of one of Jesus’ purposes coming into the world; to shine God’s light into the world and ensure that everyone can also have the light of life. No longer are God’s people to simply follow the light, like the Israelites in the desert, but we can walk in the light (1 John 1:7). Not only this, but the apostle Paul states, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).    

Perhaps this is why I am enamored by these tiny twinkling torches every year. I think of these little lights seeming so insignificant in comparison to the lights that we see every day. One poor light would be a little beacon; however, hundreds of these miniature lamps can light up a corner of the world. Yes, in the darkest part of the year, their luminosity repels the darkness just a little more. They shine in such a way that they bring joy and cheer to an otherwise dismal entryway. This time of year, reflect on this thought about what a little light can do in the world. 

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