When you’re struggling to untangle that crazy string of lights for your Christmas tree, consider the number 686,811.
That’s the Guinness record-breaking number of bulbs blazing this year at a holiday display at a home in Lagrangeville, New York. The display is choreographed to 250 different songs and requires almost 13 kilometres of extension cords. (Notably, it was also a fundraiser, raising $80,000 for local charities.)
Not quite bright enough? You might want to head over to Colombia where the annual Medellin Christmas Lighting Festival features 27 million sparkling LED lights. That’s a lot of twinkle!
There is something about the light that fascinates us, holds us captive, makes us slow down and take a second look, from the smallest spark to fireworks bursting overhead.
Something about the light perpetuates hope, even as the world tries hard to squash those burning embers before they can flame. And heaven knows, this year had a lot of squashing going on, didn’t it?
Deep darkness be gone
Long before LED bulbs were even a whisper of an idea the prophet Isaiah wrote about the power of light. “That time of darkness and despair will not go on forever,” he wrote. “Galilee of the Gentiles…will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in the land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isaiah 9:1-2).
The people of Isaiah’s time had turned their backs on God and were sinking into despair; it was easier to default to the “land of deep darkness.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s something that we–that our children–experience every day, even thousands of years later. Sometimes, we don’t even notice we’re in the dark until the light shines in our eyes and we blink in surprise.
What better time than now to turn our hearts back to the light, back toward hope? Back to the wonder of the baby in the manger who grew up to save the world?
Light that leads to life
About 700 years after Isaiah’s prophecy, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)
The land of deep darkness; the light that leads to life. It is a great dichotomy. But it is also a choice. Jesus says “if you follow”. The choice is up to us. We don’t have to stay in the darkness. We can turn and let the Light into our very souls.
That is the message of the Gospel, the good news that we are passionate to share! Children, youth, and families are waiting to catch a glimpse of the Light who will lead them out of the land of deep darkness.
How will you share the Light this Christmas?