Reigniting the Light of Christmas – A Single Candle

John 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ It continues on to say that Jesus is the “true light”. The run-up to Christmas is filled with lights – twinkling fairy lights, candles, lanterns, signs alight and flashing as businesses all compete for the attention of shoppers. Some of the lights are pleasant and cheery, some not so much. But none of them last. When the season is over they will all be taken away and we will be plunged into wintery darkness once again. But the “true light” that entered into our world long ago does not leave us. He still shines out in the darkness and we as His followers have a unique opportunity at Christmas to pull back the curtain of busyness, consumerism and false attempts at merry-making for the true Light to be seen in and through our lives.

Therefore, we asked a few people to share with us over the next few weeks how they are personally reigniting the “true” light of Christmas in their own lives this year.
David from Dundee shares with us how he uses a single candle to engage with the “true Light” of Christmas.

Christmas seems to arrive earlier each year and as usual it comes with glitter, baubles and fairy lights.
I remember one December driving home from work along a country road, as I drove over the brow of a hill there below me was not just the usual lights from houses in a village, but every house and tree covered with hundreds of lights to welcome the festive season. It looked fabulous, but I wondered how much pressure had been put on some of those villagers to join in, to be part of it, not to let their side down!

Right from the beginning of November there is increasing pressure to join in, to spend, to prepare for the perfect Christmas day. Some of this pressure is good – it is great to celebrate and to holiday, to help charities and to remember the Christmas Story.
In our family, my three daughters made sure we filled every wall and corner with lights from December 1st. They loved the excitement, the build up to Christmas…

But, at the risk of being called a humbug, we also need to remember the darker side of Christmas. Many of my friends here, who have already had to cope with difficult experiences in their past, find Christmas a really difficult time of year. Those who have gradually weaned themselves from alcohol addiction find it hard when everyone is invited and expected to get into the party spirit. Many of the people I meet – people who access support though projects and community cafes just to keep going – simply miss the support that they can usually count on as support services close over the holiday break.
Most of the guys who bravely resist the addictive cravings they experience every day have also experienced the break-up of family and close relationships through the years they were addicted. They will struggle at Christmas as they feel keenly the absence of the family.

I prepare for Christmas by lighting a single candle, sitting in the dark and the quiet – very deliberately pushing away the expectations and pressures of a perfect, glitzy Christmas, choosing to resist the commercial pressure to buy bigger and better gifts, and simply focusing on the one light.

Jesus came, and in the darkness the one light shone. My life, like his, is just one, but with that life I can choose to talk to the addict and the homeless or to shop for the perfect present. I can choose to focus on bringing hope to those who can’t afford the perfect Christmas, or to make my own Christmas as perfect as it can be.

D.L. Moody said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do, and what I should do – God being my helper I will do.”

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Advent

John 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. It continues on to say that Jesus is the “true light”. The run-up to Christmas is filled with lights – twinkling fairy lights, candles, lanterns, signs alight and flashing as businesses all compete for the attention of shoppers. Some of the lights are pleasant and cheery, some not so much. But none of them last. When the season is over they will all be taken away and we will be plunged into wintery darkness once again. But the “true light” that entered into our world long ago does not leave us. He still shines out in the darkness and we as His followers have a unique opportunity at Christmas to pull back the curtain of busyness, consumerism and false attempts at merry-making for the true Light to be seen in and through our lives.

Therefore we asked a few people to share with us over the next few weeks how they are personally reigniting the “true” light of Christmas in their own lives this year.
Crystal starts us off with how she is engaging with Advent more intentionally.

Advent – coming.

This simple word has lodged itself in my heart this year and has had me pondering. And has influenced my way of celebrating and engaging with Christmas.

I love Christmas, always have. I am always counting down the days until I can put up the tree and lights and then I try to keep them up as long as possible – until the poor tree is shrivelled and dried to half its original size!

But this year this word Advent has had me approaching the celebratory aspects of Christmas a bit more slowly. Yes, the tree is up – it hasn’t slowed me that much!

However, I have been more aware of the current darkness, pain, suffering, the deep bone weariness & exhaustion, frustrated restlessness, angry impatience, the quiet despairing resignation, and the deep, hungry yearning for hope in the world and in my friends and family. Therefore what Christmas truly represents has felt so important and I have not wanted to rush into the surface merry-making, but sit with the deeper truth of this season and let it sink into my being.

Shauna Niequist says, “There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it’s in those seasons when I’m so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.

I am “falling open to Advent” through my homemade Advent calendar. Little envelopes hanging on a wee paper tree and in each envelope is the name of someone to pray for and send an encouraging note to.
Then I am reading this profound little daily Advent devotional by Walter Bruggemann called Celebrating Abundance.
In the silent early hours of each morning I make my cup of coffee, take that day’s name from the envelope, sit by the tree, and prayerfully read through the devotional, allowing the gentle whisper of Holy Spirit to do its work in my own heart before turning my prayers to the name scribbled on the bit of paper.

There has been no great moment of mind-blowing revelation. But rather a slowly building sense of quiet anticipation, an increased longing for Jesus and for His light to penetrate the darkness and struggle in which those I know and love and those I don’t know find themselves in at the moment. Because Advent is for these people especially. And so I look towards Christmas, anticipating that Light to come and fill what is empty, repair the broken and restore what has been lost.