Last week I was able to go see the Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo with my friend. It was a fantastic experience! So. Many. Pretty. Lights.
The displays were absolutely breathtaking and awe-inspiring! Lights that twinkled, lights that glowed, lights in formation, lights hanging down, lights flashing in time to music, white lights, color explosion of lights! So many lights! In the midst of my child-like awe and excitement I began to contemplate the reason we put up lights at this time of the year.
A little investigation yielded the fact that the first Christmas tree lit up with electric lights was a sales gimmick for Thomas Edison in the late 1800s. It was offered as a safer alternative to the tradition of placing lighted candles on the tree (can we say fire hazard?)
Speaking of candles, we see a lot of those at this time of year, too. Especially placed on big, green wreaths. Especially groups of three purple candles and one pink candle. Especially due to the Advent season.
Why is there so much light to be found even as the days become darker? Candles have long been used in history as reminders in the midst of Winter that the light and warmth of Spring will return. Christians adopted and the adapted this tradition in the Advent wreath – which is now used in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus the Christ.
The devil’s name is Lucifer, which means light bearer. He was once the highest of the angels and he was once the bringer of light. When he turned from God and tempted mankind, he brought forth only the darkness of sin and death.
Jesus came to earth to dispel the darkness which ruptured the relationship between God and man. Jesus came to light the world with the goodness, truth, and beauty of the Triune God who wants to be in relationship with us. The Advent season, filled with light, directs us to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas, but this season also exhorts us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. It is crucial for us to prepare for both.
In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the prophet says,
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)
Man walked in darkness for thousands of years. The Word of God became flesh to dwell among us and so brought back the light to mankind. Jesus is the Light of the World. Lights dispel the surrounding darkness to show the way so that the traveler does not have to stumble blindly around. Christ our Light is the Way. He is the candle to dispel the surrounding darkness of the world, the darkness of mankind, and the darkness within each of us.
My favorite verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” goes like this:
O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
There is nothing quite so cheerful as the warmth of a flame. The word advent means “coming.” The Advent of Christ ignites our wearied souls with the fire of God’s love for us. Brothers and sisters, I ask that you allow the warmth of Christ’s light penetrate you to the depths of your soul especially during this Advent and Christmas season. May God bless you on your way!