I love the lights of Christmas – the shimmer and sparkle and multicolored display is electrifying (no pun intended).  I just love em, at least until a bulb goes out which knocks out a whole string which makes the house look like it has lost a tooth.   

The very first Christmas light display was put up by the inventor of the lightbulb – Thomas Edison.  He promised to spruce up downtown Manhattan for Christmas of 1880.  He laid miles of underground wire and hung strings of incandescent bulbs around his laboratory. The locals were so awed they dubbed Edison “the Enchanter” and described the display as “a fairy-land of lights.”

2020 has been an unusual year for Christmas lights.  Some folks began hanging them before the goblins of Halloween were put away.  Many got out the ladders before the Thanksgiving turkey was even basted.   

What gives?  Maybe it’s just 2020.  It’s been a tough year.  Hurricanes have pummeled the east coast and wildfires have consumed the west.  Major cities have been broken and looted.  We have suffered through a brutal election season and the dumb old virus still has us in its grip.

We need something – anything to lift our spirits and pretty lights help. 

Marsha Chinichian is a clinical psychotherapist.  She wrote, “Studies show that decorating for the holidays improves mood and ignites positive memories.” Not to mention that fact that the actual act of putting Christmas decorations up offers a boost of your happy hormone, dopamine.”

Basically, Christmas lights tend to make us feel better.  They are bright and cheerful – like ice cream for your eyes. 

This is why I decided, several years ago, to take down the Christmas lights from the front of the house and hang them in the back.  They still are draped there and are often illuminated even in July.  Because I fear being called a Redneck, we call them “party lights.” (The grandkids believe me) 

Light is certainly one of the themes of Christmas.   It was a bright star, hung in the eastern sky that alerted the first century world of the hope wrapped in swaddling clothes.

But light and Jesus were paired long before Bethlehem.  650 years before Jesus made His debut, the prophet Isaiah gave a prediction about His advent.  He wrote, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.   Isa 9:2 – KJV

There is nothing like turning on a light to take the fear and anxiety out of the dark unknown.  Isaiah tells us that Jesus would be that light.  He would enter the land of the shadow of death.   Sounds like our beloved land at the moment. 

Jesus would enter that dark, depressing, dreary world and transform it – chasing away the darkness with His radiance. How?  He would challenge heartless legalism and open the spigot of grace.   He would provide a way to reconcile God and man by virtue of His life and His death.  He would become the means by which to usher in peace on earth. 

Isaiah was clearly speaking of Jesus.  We know this because the prophet went on to say, “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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 – KJV

This baby Jesus would be a wonderful and powerful light.

And everlasting too!  My grandkids think it’s funny to flip off the lights and leave grandpa in a dark room.  The light of Jesus will never be switched off again because it is everlasting. 

Did you know that psychologists use what is known as “light therapy” to help people overcome depression?   I treat my occasional depression with a better “light therapy.”  I have a collection of Scripture passages that I use to remind myself that the “light of the world” loves me and gave up His life for me (Galatians 2:20).

No doubt you’ll put up your own Christmas lights this season.   Your wreath may be sparkly; Rudolph’s nose may glow, and your tree might rival that of the one at Rockefeller Center. 

All that is great – but make sure that you put the brightest light in the manger scene – right over the baby Jesus as a reminder that He is the light that we truly need.

A PRAYER: O light of the world, this Christmas I ask you to illuminate the shadows of this year.