I was a little surprised this Saturday evening as I drove down our road into town at about 7.00pm, to see the houses in the lower part of our long road all lit up with Christmas lights. I was reflecting with Di that everyone must have had the same idea at the same time. Yesterday I found out why there was a sudden and rather dramatic light show. Apparently, there is a neighbourhood WhatsApp group called Happy Valley, and everyone agreed to have a 6.00pm switching on time this Saturday. This was organised to bring a bit of celebration joy in a rather difficult time at the start of Advent.
I am not sure where the idea of switching on lights at Advent came from, but for Christian Advent we like to draw attention to the coming of Jesus both his first visit and his second coming too. Some suggest it was Martin Luther, the great Lutheran reformer who introduced lights to the Christmas tree to celebrate Jesus the light of the world. Before this, the season was a mid-winter pagan festival. I like the light in the darkness aspect of this time of year. The carols and songs often refer to the light of Christ shining in the darkness.
The line ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come’ is taken from a passage in Isaiah and is pointing ahead to the coming of Jesus. There is a sense too that once we embrace Jesus in our lives, we are then filled with light and can give it away. The lovely responses coming back from those who have received our hampers shows how people respond to the light of Jesus coming through thoughtfulness and kindness. I was able to deliver a card and some flowers to a couple in our road, who have been going through a very difficult time. An hour later I got back a WhatsApp note saying how helpful that little action had been to them.
We can do some things as a whole church that express the light of Christ coming to people. We can also be responding as individuals. Over this month why not have a go at praying for God to show you how a little action on your part can bring light into a dark situation. We may not be able to bring light to a whole street, but we can bring the light and love of God to some who really need it. Those individuals are important to God.