Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. Isaiah 60:1
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Since New Year’s Day, it has gotten darker in our neighborhood. Many have turned off their Christmas lights. Some of us will keep them on until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men (although we did that in worship yesterday).
This shows the great dichotomy between secular and sacred Christmas. In secular Christmas the decorations routinely go up the Friday after Thanksgiving (although many started earlier in 2020), the Christmas carols begin to play through November, and everything stops right after Christmas day. The radio stations return to their regular format and you stop hearing about Rudolph, Frosty and Santa.
Sacred Christmas, however, really begins Christmas Eve when we light the Christ Candle and continues through 12 days until January 6th. Yet even that can be extended – the Vatican does not remove the Nativity until February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation (Luke 2:22-40)
Personally, I find it interesting that many of the major world religions and cultures have a celebration of light around December (Hanukkah, Diwali, Christmas and Kwanzaa as examples) but then we take the lights down during January – which tends to be dark and cold. Last year I left up a string of white lights through January as a reminder that we are to spread the light.
And that is really the point here, it is not about when you put up or take down your Christmas decorations, rather about being the light of the world, as Jesus calls us (Matthew 5:14-16) and as the light of the world, we are to shine brightly.
As we begin a New Year, be the light. Be the one who is different, who shines when others are dim, who sheds positive light when others are down, who spreads joy instead of despair. Be the light of Christ, share the light of Christ.
May God bless us all in this New Year,