By Kim Longden
I have always loved Christmas lights. Some of my most treasured childhood memories are driving around as a family oohing and aahing at houses all decked out and twinkling. The more lights, the better; and if those magic strands of luminescence were set to a radio transmitter and pulsated to music, we would make the trek to wherever something so amazing could be seen…and heard!
A couple of years ago, our neighborhood started a “Clark Griswold” Christmas lights competition as a way of brightening the many layers of darkness we were experiencing during the pandemic. Our neighborhood rarely disappoints in its awesomeness, and this light competition was no exception.
Almost every house put up some kind of display, ranging from a few strings of lights around the porch (that was us; our kids will never forgive us for our minimalist display—ha-ha!) to creative homemade scenes bedecked with many hundreds of multi-colored bulbs. The result was a neighborhood so beautifully lit that we couldn’t help slowing down every time we drove through it, oohing and aahing all the way home.
I was out for a walk this evening pondering what a blessing these neighborhood lights have been to me personally over the past couple of years. So much darkness at half past five in the evening is disheartening, but these twinkling lights piercing the night shift my focus away from the dark and make cold winter walks enjoyable.
The lights are so overpowering that I almost don’t notice the darkness that surrounds me. And when I do notice the darkness, it is not scary to me in the presence of all these lights.
I’ve walked into this Advent season carrying the weight of fear on my shoulders. When I focus on the unknowns that may be lurking in the darkness, I am tempted to withdraw and ruminate. Walking in my light-shining neighborhood has become a daily reminder that, even though darkness is all around me, Jesus’ Light pierces the darkness, and has overcome it.
That’s the point of lighting Advent candles, isn’t it? Each week we add a little more light as the coming of Jesus draws closer. The flickering flames tell me again that I do not walk this road of fear alone; and when I fix my gaze on the Light, the darkness is not so scary.
The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
Jesus promises that he will come back; at his Second Advent, the many layers of darkness I experience will be no more. Until then, Jesus promises to walk with me. I need not fear.
Each twinkling Christmas light and Advent candle remind me of this promise as I keep walking forward in the dark, my gaze fixed on the Light.