You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves all things Christmas more than I do. I could be very happy being a year-round Christmas person. If only it could last all year.
In my house the decorations go up early and stay up late and I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks. I was singing “We Need a Little Christmas” back in July.
Bring on the hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, snow, crackling fireplace, cozy blankets, red and gold and green and silver and blue and white decorations, trees bedecked with sentimental ornaments and ribbon, garland strung on anything that will stand still, gnomes and elves and Santas, reindeer and sleighs and gifts, poinsettias and pinecones, Christmas cards and Christmas music, and of course — most of all, in fact — lights. Twinkling lights everywhere.
Is there anything more magical, more enchanting than a twinkling, glowing Christmas tree? I can never get enough.
It Is So Dark
Even as every room of my home twinkles with light and cheerful decorations, the darkness seems so heavy this year. The weight of sadness, suffering, fear, illness and death, the uncertainty of what lies around the corner as our poor country seems to be coming unraveled, it all just lingers in the air. It steals joy and dumps gloom on our heads. It stokes anger and scorches the interior earth of mind and heart. It robs our hope and fills us with dread.
Fond as I am of all the colorful, festive trimmings, they have no real power to save. They cannot ease the suffering or heal the sick or find the lost or rescue the soul from death. In truth, those festive trimmings have little to do with Christmas at all.
Except the lights.
What Christmas Means
Those little lights strung on my trees serve to show me that darkness can indeed be pierced. Those lights are never more beautiful than at night when all around is dark. They speak to my heart of the night that darkness fell because the Light of the world had come. Each little bulb seems to say, “I am not overcome.”
We need a little Christmas alright. We need a lot of Christmas right now. Not the trappings and trimmings, but the Light that shines in the darkness, the Light which the darkness will never overcome. Christmas is that light. Christ is that Light.
Strangers hurled their ire and insults at me on Twitter this week for daring to state that Christmas is Christ, and one cannot celebrate Christmas without celebrating Jesus. The world seeks to dismiss Him and turn the day into a generic show of goodwill and cheer after selling us everything under the sun in the gift-buying frenzy, but whatever that is, it is not Christmas.
Food and gatherings and parties do not make Christmas. Gifts and shopping do not make Christmas. Even beautiful decorating does not make Christmas.
Christmas is the celebration of the Son of God in human flesh, born of the Virgin, to save the world from sin and death. The day brings joy not because of Santa or time off work but because Emmanuel, “God with us” has come.
We are a people walking in great darkness now. We are a people crushed by the weight of sin and all its consequences. We are a nation floundering because of that sin. We desperately need the reality of Christmas. Our future depends on whether we receive the gift found in the manger.
So arise, shine. On us a great light has shone. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us. We have seen a great light. “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
That is our hope. Christ is our hope. Christ is our Light. Christ is our salvation. Unto us a child is born, a Son is given. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Yes, the darkness around us is heavy. The darkness within us may be heavier still. I feel it as do so many people. Despair taunts and fear shouts at us that hope is gone, and evil has won.
It has not. Hear the prophet and the angels. They make not an appeal to emotion but a statement of immovable truth: a Savior is born. On all of us a light has shone, and we no longer have to walk in darkness.
I will delight in my twinkling trees and listen to the good news they proclaim: Christmas is the light in our darkness, the light that will never be overcome.
Come, Lord Jesus, into our darkness. Bring Your Christmas light.
Jennifer Hartline is a senior contributor to The Stream. You can follow her at @jenniehartline.