By Stephen Myers
Christmas is a season full of excitement and joy, of reconnecting and remembering, of contemplating and celebrating. The season is always full of memories and longings.
To this very day if I rest my face against a cold car window at night I’m transported back to the drive home from my grandparents’ house where I searched the dark night night sky for a glimpse of the Christmas star that pierced the night sky so many years ago.
That is one of my most favorite memories of Christmastime. Perhaps it is the wonder and innocence of being a little child gleefully searching the night sky, or the refreshing chill contrasting the late night winter cold outside of the car with the heaters inside the car running full blast.
Nonetheless, I still find myself every year pressing my face against the car window and peering into the night sky just to feel that same familiar cold. There is something truly wonderful about this time of year.
This is our first Christmas in our new home, so a few weeks ago my wife and I went out and put up Christmas lights around the house. A scary endeavor, to be sure, for someone (me) who is terrified of heights, to be on a ladder fully extended while hanging lights on the gutters of our two story home.
Why? Because the only experience I enjoy more than the nostalgia I feel from pressing my face against the cold car window is driving my children around to see all of the houses decorated with Christmas lights. The lights are my favorite part of the Christmas season. They are a declaration, a warm and welcome announcement that something is different. That we have reason to rejoice!
Decorating our houses with Christmas lights as a tradition is meant to reflect the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew. No, the manger was not decorated with Christmas lights, but there was a great light in the story. A group of wise men had come from the east to Jerusalem in search of the King of the Jews.
Why Jerusalem? Well according to them, they had seen a star, a sign in the night sky.
Do not miss this moment.
These men had come to worship… a group of men who were not Jews―they were in fact gentiles―the first gentiles in the New Testament who had come to worship Jesus.
There have been many attempts to explain the phenomenon that was the star that brought the Magi to Jerusalem, and eventually to Jesus. Yet none have been able to explain what was truly witnessed.
Elsewhere, a group of shepherds encountered an angel of the Lord and the “glory of the Lord shone around them…”
During Christmas time, the book of Isaiah, chapter 9 is known mostly for verse 6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Praise God that this has been fulfilled!
However, it is verse 2 of that chapter that stops me in my tracks.
“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.”
A great light accompanied the pronouncement of the birth of Christ! In John 1:4 it says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In Luke chapter one Zechariah prophesies, “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.” (Luke 1:78-79 ESV)
So often, we are aware of the darkness around us that we focus on the difficulties and experiences of life in a fallen world. Yet may we find ourselves like a little child with his face pressed against the cold window looking into the dark night sky for a glimmer of the light that pierces the darkness.
Rejoice, says the hymn, Emmanuel shall come.
For you, the promise was made.
For you, Jesus came.
For you, He is coming back again.
May this story be told to you over and over again, until you make it your own.