For some of us, Christmas is merely a cultural tradition. For others, the holiday is steeped in the reminder that Jesus is the Light of the World. And for the rest? Too busy perhaps. Temporary decorating is probably seen as a waste of time. There are better things to do. And this is where the wonder of Christmas lights really shines.
This is the darkest time of the year, so running an after dinner errand means driving in pitch black unless streetlights or other cars are present. One such night, our van was cresting a hill surrounded by dark clusters of trees and even darker houses, when a single, neat line of white lights and a simple, messy strand of blue shown out through the black stillness. It wasn't the most wow-inducing display. I'm sure it didn't take a huge commitment to put up. But it made me smile. And made me grateful that there are still people who love to celebrate the light and hope that Christmas brings with such an elementary, yet joyful symbol.
Symbols are powerful - they speak of and remind us of things unseen: commitment, identity, spirituality, connection, etc. Decorating with lights both inside and out during the darkest season is the perfect symbol for Christ's entering into human history. His arrival was just as surprising and hopeful as Christmas lights in the quiet dark.
I will always go out of my way to see the most outlandishly fancy light display. Yet passing by a few unexpected lights where no others are present? That's the kind of symbol that stays with me.