One of my favorite things about Christmas is the beautiful, twinkling Christmas lights everywhere – from lights on the Christmas tree, to lighted wreaths, garland, and lights adorning rooftops and front lawns – it never gets old to admire the bright twinkles amidst the dark night skies of the Christmas season.
The tradition of Christmas trees dates back to the 16th century and Christians in Germany have been credited with the start of this tradition. Historically, candles were used to light the tree and were glued with melted wax to a tree branch or attached by pins. And according to High Country Lights website:
“During the 1880 Christmas season, Thomas Edison introduced the first outdoor electric Christmas light display to the world. He displayed the lights outside of his laboratory compound, which sat near a railway where many people could see it each night. This was the first official outdoor Christmas display that was separate from decorating just the Christmas tree. Edward Johnson, who was an inventor under the supervision of Thomas Edison, created the first string of Christmas lights for the tree a couple of years later. The string of lights was made out of 80 small electric light bulbs. In 1890, the strings of lights were mass-produced and department stores began displaying them in Christmas displays in their stores.”
I think the real beauty of Christmas lights lies in what they symbolize – the light of Jesus Christ. Scripture has much to say about light, beginning with the creation of the world!
Genesis 1:3 says, “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.” Bible commentator, David Guzik, points out that on the first day of creation, light is created and divided from the darkness. He says, “The first step from chaos to order is to bring light. This is also the way God works in our life.”
When God saves us, scripture says that He “delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us to the kingdom of His dear Son.” (Col. 1:13) And the kingdom of His dear son is a kingdom of light! In the previous verse Paul says that believers should “give thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” (v. 12). Apart from Christ, we would live in spiritual darkness – unable to “see” spiritually; fumbling and stumbling through life; lost in our sin with no light find our way. But God did not leave us in darkness. Isaiah 9:2 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 shone.” And Luke 1:78-79 says, “…because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The beautiful lights at Christmas can remind us of what Jesus says of himself in John 8:12,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I was asking our boys the other day what their favorite Christmas carols are, and our youngest said that his favorite carol is Silent Night. I think he loves our church’s special Lesson & Carols service where we combine the singing of Christmas carols with Scripture lessons about the birth of Christ. We always sing Silent Night as our final hymn of the evening as we light candles while we’re singing. On this hymn the sanctuary is dark. The first candle is lit (symbolizing the light of Christ) and from that candle, all the other candles are lit. Our light comes from His light. And because of His light and love for us, we can share that light with others. By the end of the carol, the room is bright with the light of all our candles. The final stanza of this hymn reflects the beauty and rich truth of this tradition:
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
May you continue to enjoy the beauty and sparkle of Christmas lights this season, and may they be a constant reminder of the light and love of our beloved Savior, who took on flesh, endured the darkness of the cross, and burst forth in the light of the resurrection so that we might never have to live in darkness. May our God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6)