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Red Letters

Chuck Smith Jr. and I have been around the world together. I've always appreciated his depth and insight into the scriptures and into life. He is truly an amazing man. 

A little know fact is that Chuck also mentored and coached me through the writing of my first book, Fields of the Fatherless, and I will be forever grateful.  When I read this reflection he posted on his blog, it touched me deep in my soul. I needed these truths, I needed this Light, and I needed to be reminded of the reality of the Christmas message.

Reflexion #153: For some reason, after the Sun went down last Saturday, the world seemed especially dark. This was not lost on five year old Emily as we stepped outside to drive her home. “Ooh, it’s da-a-rk!” she said. Then she began telling us how she does not like “monsters.” (Unfortunately, her older brother, Noah, enjoys inventing stories of floating luminous orbs, sharp-fanged man-beasts, and other creatures that “go bump in the night.”)

Wishing to promote reason over superstition, my less than thoughtful response was, “Sweetheart, don’t pay any attention to that nonsense.” Grandma, however, knowing that it was not the mind of the little one that needed reassurance but the heart, said, “Emily, look at the Christmas lights on that house. What do you see?” Pointing to bright figures grazing in a neighbor’s yard, Emily said, “Reindeer.” “Yes,” Barbara said. And look over there; icicles.” Through her gentle prompting, Barbara calmed Emily’s dread of the dark and diverted her attention to the illumination of festive decorations.

As we drove along city streets and through neighborhoods, a voice from the car seat behind us sporadically shouted, “Lights!” Not a discovery or observation, but a jarring command. Emily found her Christmas joy.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overpower it. John 1:4-5

Christmas Lights

It was Luke who noticed the Christmas lights. There was the light of the angel who appeared to shepherds “and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk. 2:9). The even greater light was Jesus, “A light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of [God’s] people Israel” (Lk. 2:32). Both Matthew and Luke viewed Jesus as the light the prophet foretold, “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, / And those who were sitting in the shadow of death, / Upon them a light dawned” (Mt. 4:16; Lk. 1:79).

I pause at the words, “sit in darkness.” If you have ever been deep inside a cave or cavern and doused the lights, then you know it is best to sit in one place. Otherwise you will likely bump your head or stumble and fall. To sit in darkness is to settle into despair. For “the Gentiles,” it was religious despair. Paul said we were “strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ep. 2:12). There is also emotional despair, and I’ve spent a large part of my life sitting in that darkness, waiting for day to dawn and the morning star to arise in my heart (2 Pe. 1:19).

The dot of light in the sky that the magi followed from the east to Bethlehem was the dim light of a lamp compared to the greater Light. The arrival of Christ broke through the gloom and dispelled the darkness.

In the high church tradition, four candles are set out the first Sunday of Advent, but only one is lit. Then, each consecutive Sunday, another candle is lit until on Christmas Sunday all four flames shimmer in the front of the church. This is to remember and celebrate the dawning light of Jesus when he entered our world. Continue reading by clicking here.

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