So much about Christmas gives assurance to believers in in a world that is dark and gloomy. Christmas comes quickly when you are a senior adult. Anticipation of Christmas reminds me of how very long it seemed between Christmases when I was a child. The songwriter penned, “I just can’t wait, I just can’t wait, I just can’t wait ‘till Christmas. I’ve waited all year, and it’s almost here. I just can’t wait ‘till Christmas” As children we were reminded to be good, and the children’s poet, Eugene Field, wrote, “Jest ‘fore Christmas I’m as good as I can be.” Now I know that this kind of good was not and is not good enough. That is the reason God in His grace sent us Jesus. He is a gift that we simply have to accept. Any good in us is because of Him.
Some 700 years before Christ was born, the people of God in the southern kingdom of Judea anticipated that a Messiah would come who would liberate them from the darkness of Roman rule and oppression. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Nevertheless there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress,” and he continues, “…in the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 9:1) That same Galilee is the village of Mary and Joseph in Luke 2, where Dr. Luke tells us about the birth of the Christ child. As predicted by the prophet Micah, this birth of the Bread of Life would be in Bethlehem, the home of David.
Isaiah went on to say in his prophetic passage upon which Handel’s Messiah was written, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great Light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned…” ( Isaiah 9: 2,6-7) Stand in awe as the Hallelujah Chorus is sung, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
John, the gospel writer, reminds us in the loveliest way about Jesus, the Light of the World, by taking us back to Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In John 1:1 he reminds us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God.” Jesus the eternal One was also the Creator. John went on to say, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” Many people then and now did not understand even though the message is simple, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great Light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a Light has dawned.”(Isaiah 9:2). So I say to you, the lights on the tree, the candles in the window are a fitting way to celebrate His birth. Turn off all your lights except the ones on the tree. Sit in your “easy chair” and embrace the wonder and awe you remember as a child when you got that first “Ahh!” glimpse of the lights.
The lights in Sylacauga’s downtown district zig-zagged across the streets in the 1950’s. It was an event when they were turned on at dusk on Thanksgiving Day. At our house getting the lights down from the cupboard over the refrigerator was an exciting time. It was a day before LED lights and timers, and computer generated light shows. Money was scarce, but Daddy would go the 5&10 cent store and buy 4 or 5 of those small replacement bulbs. He would stretch out the lights across the living room and check the wires for any bare spots that needed a touch of black electrical tape to make them safe. We would tighten all the bulbs in the sockets, and my sister Barbara would sit by the outlet to plug and unplug the string if it did not illuminate. Then I would move from light to light to determine which bulb was bad and replace it, for if one bulb was burned out, none of the lights came on.
Not so, with lights today. You can let your light shine even if there is darkness all about just as Jesus told us to do. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick so that it giveth light to all that are in the world. Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
I am so thankful for G.A.’s at First Baptist Church, who taught me early, “Arise shine, for thy Light has come.” (Isaiah 60:1) Miss Marie Tuck, Mrs. Alma White, Mrs. Elizabeth Dickson, Mrs. Nell Vaughn and others poured their love into our lives, and today I was able to buy some Christmas ornaments from little G.A.’s who are still learning about His love there. Thanks to all those willing leaders, Amy Williamson, Jenny Spradley, and Vanessa Arrant who are teaching little girls what I learned then and Debbie Rogers who helped them collect the money from their sale of ornaments they had made to support foreign missions. This is a fitting example of why we have Christ in us, to pass His Light on to those who come behind us. You see, you don’t have to have a big old King James Bible in your hand to witness about Jesus. The believers in Christ can let His Light shine in Sylacauga or wherever they are now as those lights did in the 1950’s and some 2000 years ago when Christ was born. It was not so long ago at that. Merry Christmas to all!!!