John 1:4-5 (NIV) 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
Jesus Is the Brightest Light!
Week 1 - Put on the Light!
We had our little Christmas tree, ugly, dark and undecorated. It looked much better with a string of lights. We saw what happens when the darkness covers it and us. We placed all kinds of black decorations—our sins—on that tree. Just one of those sins make us ugly and dark. We heard the apostle Paul say, “Put off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV). Where Jesus’ light shines, darkness has to flee. Jesus told demons to run and they fled. Jesus told blindness to flee, and a man born blind could see. Jesus commanded death to flee, and Lazarus walked out of his grave. Jesus is our light, and when he lights our lives, we put off all those sins, all those deeds of darkness and we are beautiful!
Week 2 - Many Lights Shine Brighter Together!
Our little Christmas tree looked better. It was covered with lights—six strings in all! Even though all of those lights looked great, we figured out that we don’t always like to shine together in our lives. Our lack of unity and love can cause those lights to wink out. When we put ourselves and our own needs ahead of others, when we point the finger of blame at everyone else, those lights go dark. That’s when we need the Light of the World to shine even brighter in our lives. When Jesus shines in our hearts, we can shine brightly as we work and serve together. Our tree shone brilliantly as we plugged the lights back in!
Christmas Eve - The Brightest Light Brings Life!
Christmas lights have been used since the 18th century when Christians in Germany would use candles to decorate their trees with the light of Jesus. By the late 19th century, people began to string incandescent bulbs on Christmas trees instead of dangerous candles.
One Christmas light has an interesting history. It was purchased by Edward and Lydelle Decker, from Evansville Illinois, just two days after they were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1946. Out of a package of four, one light bulb has continued to light up for over 70 years as it shines on the family’s Christmas trees, and it has been shining indoors and outdoors all those years. It’s amazing how it has lasted!
We know that even though the light of Jesus shines in us, these bulbs don’t last very long. Last Wednesday I did the funeral of one of Jesus’ lights—Mr. Dave Froehner. His faith shone here at Salem. He was regular in worship, loved his family and community, but his life didn’t last forever. That’s the problem with all these lights sitting here tonight. Thanks to sin, life doesn’t go on forever. It might last 70 years, or 80 if our lights burn that long, but then they will go out. Maybe that’s a scary thought that these lights can burn out so suddenly, without warning. What can we do about it?
We can’t do anything about it, but I did bring a light to show you tonight. It’s a spot light. It’s super bright. Spotlights point at something specific in the dark. Listen to what John wrote at the beginning of his gospel: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4–5 NIV). Look at this light! It is so bright, and wherever it goes, the darkness can’t stop it. That’s the light we see shining from the manger tonight. It’s not a dim light, barely flickering. It shines brilliantly with perfection and love. This child lived, a spotlight to pierce the darkness, so that we could find life. 33 years later, nails would pierce his hands and his feet. A crown of thorns would cover his brow. Death came, and tried to snuff out the light. It was dark, and Jesus died.
Remember what John said, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4–5 NIV). Even though Jesus died, the darkness of death could not hold down the Light of the World. Three days later, just as he promised, Jesus rose from the dead. In him is life. The beam of light shines brilliantly. It shines, not until the battery wears down and needs recharging. It shines, not just for 70 years, or 80 and then burns out. Jesus shines now and forever. He is our life in the light of Christmas. We can come to the manger tonight and live, thanks to Jesus. I pray that his light will shine brightly for you tonight and always! Amen.