Sunday, December 15, 2013

The holidays are so steeped in commercialism that I hesitate to even write something Christmas themed. Do we really need one more devotional about the birth of Jesus?

We’ve heard the old familiar stories so often that our ears can become dull and our hearts hard. The eyes, however, are still capable of being pierced by lights, and when other things fail to move me, often my attention is captured by all things glowing, glittering, and flashing.

Could it be that Christmas is really all about the lights?

There’s an interesting connection to the Jewish holiday Hanukkah—also known as the Festival of Lights, which concluded just a couple of weeks ago. Based on an event that took place between the Old and New Testaments, it’s mentioned in John 10:22 as the Feast of Dedication. The story goes that after defeating the Greeks who had come in and desecrated the Temple, the Maccabees cleaned and rededicated the place, but found only enough pure oil for one day—and the process for making more took eight days. They relit the lamps anyway, and miraculously, the oil lasted for all eight days, until the new oil was ready. Hence the eight days of Hanukkah, with one candle for each days.

But it’s just a legend, right? And why would Scripture bother to mention a holiday based upon mere story?

Because it isn’t just about the oil and the light that burned for eight days—it’s about the greatest light of all, the Light who shines in the darkness of this world and is not overcome by it. The Sun of Righteousness who has risen with healing in His wings. The one who came originally, not as the conquering king that Herod feared, but a tiny baby kindled inside the humble vessel of a woman, made to come first as a servant—a shammas, ironically the same term as the candle used to light all the others during Hanukkah.

He truly is the One who sets our fragile lives aflame, and so we become beacons of truth, of hope. Enough light only for one step at a time on the path before us, perhaps, but we have no idea what effect the flame in our hearts, however tiny, might have. Could it be that our lives are the real lights of Christmas?

It could be, indeed. And if He is our light, then the darkness, however threatening, cannot swallow us up.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5, NKJV)

In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.
And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]. (John 1, Amplified Bible)


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