When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5, NIV)

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt. 5:14, NIV)

It’s that time of year. Time to prepare for Christmas. I know we haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving yet, but the preparations for Christmas are certainly in the queue. Many of you have already put up your Christmas trees or are in process. 

Due to my upcoming busy schedule with preparations for our Christmas music celebration on December 5th, Christmas Hope, we have started the decorating process at our house as well. Yesterday, I put out most of the outside lights, which each year becomes a more monstrous, supersized task! Every year I say this may be my last year to do this, but usually, I forget the aggravation in between and advance forward once again.

The laborious process of putting up Christmas lights seems to bring more aggravation now than it did in my younger years. The aches and pains of age and added weight only exacerbate the situation. Each year I store the lights, one rolled strand at a time, into a large trash can. It is amazing how they can entwine themselves when it comes time for their retrieval. 

Next comes the dilemma, “how many lights aren’t working?”  When they advertise, “If one light burns out the whole strand keeps burning.”  Don’t believe them! It’s an advertising falsehood meant only to promise something they can’t deliver, or so it seems. This year the first few strands shone brightly without incident. Then, deeper into the trash can I dove the less efficient the strands. Some, only half a strand worked, others one-third of a strand. Some did not light up at all. In my early years of marriage, I would have searched the lines to figure which bulb was bad and replace the bulb(s) and redeem the line. That was when money was more precious than time and energy. Now, my perspective is “if it doesn’t light it takes flight”—to the garbage can it goes! When I can’t afford to purchase new, I will no longer have lights outside. 

And the last complexity to my yard lighting is related to the power supply. There is plenty of power, but the wiring of our house was not very well thought out in my opinion. The front porch receptacle is tied in with the entire garage including the garage door opener, and the back porch, all of which are one breaker. When someone like me, who thinks if a little is good a lot is better, starts stringing lights together this can create problems. Last night was no exception. After all was completed, minus a few touches for another day, I went inside to close the garage door and take one final look before unplugging for the night. When I started closing the garage door it stopped midway and all the Christmas lights went dark. I immediately knew it was either those evil wall plugs  (GFIs) or the breaker. I checked one of the GFIs and it was fine and then determined it was probably the breaker. I unplugged everything and tripped the breaker, then tested the lights again, and they worked. Notation number 212 – do not open or close the garage while the Christmas lights are burning!

After all the aggravation, as I gazed at the lights one more time, I felt a sense of accomplishment and joy. It was worth the effort…this year!

Through this vigorous process of decorating, some truths from God’s Word came to mind. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are the light to a sin-darkened world. Sometimes it is not easy or convenient to shine that light. Putting our light out there can be grueling. It takes effort, tenacity, and just plain hard work. Sometimes there is a problem with the light fixture (that’s us for this illustration), we have become burned out or we have a short in the line. Thank goodness Jesus doesn’t throw us away in these moments but repairs the damage and makes us useful again. Lastly, there can be a power supply problem. The power source is sure, the problem comes with our connectedness. Sometimes we are unplugged, sometimes we need more power to do the job and need to spend more time in prayer and in His Word.

Advent season begins, Sunday, November 28.  Check your power source. Are you plugged into Jesus, the true power source? Remember to shine – shine with intensity, it’s worth it! This sin-darkened world needs your light!

Pastor Keith

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