Jesus, Our Light
The Light of the World
In the movie Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold is full of over-the-top Christmas cheer. He loves the Yuletide festivities and romanticizes what it should be like for loved ones to come. Clark’s outdoor decorations become legendary, eventually overwhelming the power grid with his beautiful mess. Even though he is likely unaware, Clark is actually paying appropriate homage to the birth of Christ with all of those lights.
The psalmist once spoke words foretelling the coming of the Messiah. He spoke about the great joy people would experience as God brought them out of their captivity and exile. Abiding in joy brings light to a world awash in darkness. Think about the benefits of light.
Light aids life. Before anything else in the world was created, God started with light (Gen. 1). Life cannot exist without light.
Light empowers awareness. Without light, we’d walk blindly in a world filled with obstacles and pitfalls and traps waiting to ensnare us.
Light offers clarity. Without light, I wouldn’t be able to see the diversity in all of God’s good creation. Light illuminates nuance, difference, and diversity.
Light encourages growth. Plants count on light to participate in the ordered systems God set out for them, like photosynthesis, growth, and rebirth.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus because we are people who lean toward darkness and captivity. We want to do our own thing, regardless of the consequences. And, sadly, we are rarely self-aware enough to identify our own areas of need.
Jesus as Light of the World brings us out of the darkness of our captivity, our chains, and our exile. Jesus is the Light, and he is a true cause for legitimate Christmas cheer.
Let’s consider the same benefits of light but insert the name of Jesus.
Jesus is life. Jesus changed people. He gave life to a few dead people, but he also gave life to those with broken bodies, buried hopes, and blinding disabilities. And it’s the same today. Anyone who invites Jesus into his or her life walks directly out of the darkness of exile and into the marvelous light of Jesus.
Jesus empowers awareness. When I communicate with Jesus, I am confronted with ultimate truth, which guides me into the best life I can have.
Jesus offers clarity. Walking with Jesus allows me to appreciate the diversity in all creation. Jesus brings joy to my heart and lightness to my life that fears and worry cannot destroy.
Jesus encourages growth. Jesus grows us by challenging our comfort zones-especially during our periods of captivity and exile and darkness-so that, when we are liberated by the Light, we can become smaller versions of his light for a world that desperately needs the warmth.
Light and liberation have come in the person of Jesus Christ.
Adapted from Long-Expected Jesus (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2017), 66/Found published in STANDARD, issue December 29.
Rev. Brett Rickey, Board of Trustees member and pastor of Lakeland Highland Park Church of the Nazarene