I love Christmas lights. My little girls do too. There is a park in Chickasha, Ok that has hundred and hundreds of lights. My little girls love it. I guess, with out a doubt, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the music, cookies, trees, decorations, and of course presents. But, the lights have always fascinated me. Wednesday night in class, I decorated a couple of students with Christmas lights, sent the rest of the kids outside to observe a nearby house decorated to the max and then asked our kids to observe and report what they noticed about the decorations and where they were located. One of the young men in my class, noticed that the lights were along the path. I will come back to that in moment. I also asked my kids in class if we were to wear Christmas lights? Of course the answer is no. But, just like Christmas lights along the path, we too are called to illuminate the way to Jesus.
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Luke 2:8-20 (NRSV)
1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.Matt 2:1-12 (NRSV)
As we read both of these stories, I asked the kids if there was anything similar in both stories. Of course being in a youth group, the answers ranged, but here are the “answers” I was fishing for: Light and Jesus. There are other similarities, but for what I was trying to get across that was it.
I asked the kids what stars do. Again, a wide range of answers, but the best answers were: to give light, and for navigation. I also asked them consider what the glory of the Lord was that was mentioned in Luke 2. They talked about the magnificence of God, his radiance, his majesty.
My challenge was to note the way the wise men were lead to the house where Jesus was. The star illuminated the path to Jesus. The angels that appeared to the shepherds at night in Luke 2 must have illuminated the dark countryside and with the glory of God shining around them, they too were given a path to follow to Jesus.
We are called to be Christmas Lights today. Doing what the star did for the wise men, illuminating the path to Jesus so others can behold the babe in the manger. Our task as Christmas Lights is to shine the light on the path to Jesus not just in November and December but all year long. So, may we like Paul wrote in Philippians 2, “shine like stars in the universe…” to help others see Jesus.