Each year, I heft all of our boxes of lights down from our attic like a Himalayan Sherpa, minus their skill, strength and style.
Once the boxes and my person are safely on the ground, I begin the time-honored tradition of checking the lights. Over the years, I have been exceptionally lucky when it comes to our Christmas lights. Occasionally, I will discover a bulb or two that has burned out, but very rarely has that resulted in the dreaded half-dead strand of lights. I can’t remember the last time we purchased Christmas lights because we needed them.
This year’s decoration was no different than previous years. Every strand of lights we plugged in was the very picture of Christmas luminary perfection. We hung them on our tree and went through the process of hanging them on the edge of the roof of our two-story house and all was well with the world. But 2020…
After placing all of the lights on our house, I plugged them in with all of the intensity and expectation of Clark W. Griswold and received less than pleasant results. Somehow, between the time I tested the lights on the ground and the time I hung them on the house, a light had gone out and taken several of his friends with him.
Of course, it couldn’t have been near the end of a strand where I had extra lengths of lights to cover the outage. No, it had to be a 6-foot section of lights just off the center of the string. To make matters worse, it wasn’t on one of the strands closer to the ground. No, it had to be a strand closest to the highest point of our roof.
I begrudgingly procured some more lights, wrestled with the 24-foot ladder for another hour and change and righted the egregious wrong. And again, 2020…
Within a week, we experienced a huge wind storm here in Seymour. As I was looking up at our house one night, something looked off. Somehow, only one color of light had gone out in another 6-foot section. And once again, it wasn’t an easily accessible section.
I would once again have to manhandle the 24-foot monster and climb back on the roof. This time, I took no chances. I purchased heavy-duty lights and even paid for the extra warranty and replaced every strand of lights on my house. Surely, our illumination issues were behind us. Nope, still 2020…
This past weekend as I was watching a Christmas movie with my wife, I noticed our Christmas tree out of the corner of my eye. Something seemed off to me. I turned and gave it my full, undivided attention, and sure enough, sections (plural) of lights had gone out. After what I believe has been 15 years of faithful service, both of our trusty strands of lights went half-dark at both the very top and bottom sections.
So this weekend, we removed all of our decorations, replaced all of the dead strands with new ones and assured appropriate levels of luminosity on our Christmas tree.
Was all of this effort necessary? Perhaps not, but in my mind and heart, there was something symbolic about the battle I was facing with my Christmas lights. It served as a metaphor, of sorts, for the continued struggle of 2020.
I refuse to surrender my joy. I refuse to let go of hope. I refuse to let the difficulties and darkness of these days determine my outlook, attitude or actions. I refuse to let the darkness win. Now, more than ever, we need reminders of the power and presence of the light of Christ that come at Christmas.
The gospel of John provides us with the most abstract of all of the Christmas narratives, but it also provides an extremely powerful picture of the purpose of Christ’s coming. John writes, “In (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The lights of Christmas serve as a reminder that the light of life, Jesus Christ, has come. They burn brightly with the hope-filled promise that darkness can never conquer the light.
And so through the difficulties of burned bulbs, shorted-out fuses and several trips up and down ladders around my house, our Christmas lights will continue to burn bright, bringing joy to the world and hopefully reminding those who see them that Christ has come and the darkness has been defeated.
Shine brightly, my friends. And Merry Christmas!
The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected].