Thanks to a friend, I think of this every Advent season. I share it now from our archives, with a bit of minor editing this time around.
Advent is only a few days old, and already Christmas decorations cover stores and windows and lawns. In Church we wait quietly, our spirits hushed, as light dawns slowly with the softness of sunrise.
It is quite a different story out here... in the glittering, clashing, clattering clamor of the world.
I once spoke about this to my friend RG. So much hubbub, and so soon! Carols blaring, shoppers rushing... and so many lights.
RG looked at me with a wisdom born (I suspect) of having lived 25 years longer than I. "Did you ever think," he asked gently, "that every one of those lights is because Jesus came to us?"
Well, yeah, I said. "But not everyone putting lights on their houses is doing it specifically to honor Jesus." I was being very logical. "Some may not even believe in Him."
"Whether they believe in Him or not," said my friend, "they would not be putting up lights right now if Jesus had not come to the world."
There would be no Christmas, no decorations, no special songs, no shoppers and gifters, no strings of lights on trees and houses, if Jesus had not come.
RG went on to say that when he saw Christmas lights, he thanked Jesus for coming to us. I'm sure he seldom forgot this practice, for he was a man of prayer. This holy man has now gone Home to God; he needs no more reminders.
I, meanwhile, think every Christmas of his simple wisdom.
"This would not be here if Jesus had not come." The decorations, the cards, the lights - all shine forth the news that Something Really Important happened on this earth over 2000 years ago.
Something Important Happened, and we have not forgotten.
Thanks be to God for the lesson of the lights.