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As children, we look up to adults for almost everything but nothing seems as special as when they create something. I enjoyed learning to cook with my mother and building something with my dad. For better or worse, they both tended to follow a recipe or their own dimensions instead of using a “canned” formula. I remember some of the best and worst cooking and some truly beautiful and ugly creations from both of them, but one thing remained. We had created it together.
As we approach Christmas, creation continues to be a theme as well as new beginnings. God could have sent another prophet, another burning bush, or another king to bring Himself back into view, but instead, He sent Himself in the form of His Only Son. Reading John 1:1-5, there is even something new about how His story would be told. John tells the story of creation, but it is about what is the most valuable to us today. No more step by step description, John gets to the heart of creation, Light. Not just physical light, but metaphysical, extraordinary, life-changing Light.
John describes Jesus as the Light that came to the world, was present when everything was created, and that He was present for it all. Every star, every planet, every fish, every deer, and every human being that was created was created by Him with the Father. And when it came to the first man and his companion, we can draw that Jesus, the Light, was who they were formed after. They were created to be pure, holy, righteous, good, and kind because Jesus was the model, not just the template. Everything they were created to be was modeled by the Son of God.
We live in a world today that seems to have lost so much light. People struggle to make a living. Other people have no problem doing whatever makes their own life better. We may all be tempted to give up, just take care of ourselves and not be concerned with what happens in society. Despite the hopelessness that floats around, there are still those who go the extra mile to bless someone else without ever getting anything back. A man recently found another man’s wallet after a flight from Omaha to Denver, and sent it back to the man who lost it… with an extra $40 just so that he could celebrate getting his wallet back. There are countless stories where people with no special resources or lifestyles that pass on good will to others who have nothing to offer them in return.
If we think back, perhaps it started with many of our elders making the ordinary extraordinary as an act of love. My sister-in-law discovered that the secret recipe for a heirloom pie was the add butter to top of the pie before baking it. My mother would add the giblets and other turkey “parts” to our stuffing…er.. dressing so that it was not just boxed stuffing we ate with our turkey. My aunt took a lifetime of knowledge of my favorite parts of my visits and sent me a care package with my favorite cookies wrapped in four weeks of comics from both the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News after I told her I had moved to Ohio for school. My grandfather was the town drunk, but would regularly go about town helping fix things for widows and other family members in the community, asking nothing for the service. An example of the Light that came was a central part of our world, amidst pain, poverty and politics, in other words, a world much like ours today 40 years later.
We have the choice to live in Light or sit around cursing the darkness as though there is nothing that can be done about it. Whether it’s the pecan pie that adds butter to make it taste wonderful or the person who puts an extra $20 in the wallet they found before returning it to its owner, living full of light rather than lit just enough to see, makes the difference between doing good and giving the best we can give. Read the 5th verse again. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Despite 400 years of not hearing from a prophet or the voice of God, there were still good people and there were those who were spreading darkness… unfortunately, they were the religious officials. John (the Baptizer) came to the world to testify to the Light. God was not gone, they were not forgotten, and He had sent the Light. It shined out and stood against the darkness, a darkness that had never overcome it.
The four weeks prior to Christmas is often known as Advent. Advent is a time of expectation. It is both a time to expect the coming of the Son of God as a child, but also to expect that God’s Son, born in a manger, is coming to us today, and to return to bring His people home in the future. Advent is a time of preparation for the arrival of the Light of the World. We are called to prepare our hearts to receive it. One of my favorite parts of a yearly trip to the wilderness is the firepit. If the fire was just set ablaze in the middle of everything, everything would be set ablaze. The area for that kind of heat, light, and utility was prepared to receive it, able to contain it and use everything it had to offer. Our lives are much the same. We must rid them of the clutter that would impede, dowse, or make the fire of the Holy Spirit and the Light be uncontrollable and worthless.
We are given an opportunity to create something wonderful and magnificent with Christ, something that will last and change the world. With so many people living to please themselves and only making their own world better by their own efforts, we, as followers of the Light, have so much more to offer if we will dare to place Christ at the center of our efforts, and let the Light of the World come in us. Like the farmer that prepares a field to sow seed in order to make the most of his efforts, we, too, can prepare our lives to be ready to allow the Light to reside in us and be able to benefit a world shrouded in darkness. Only in preparing our lives to wield God’s greatest Light will we truly become Children of the Light and will lives be changed.
What does God desire to create with me when joined with the Light?
What clutters my vision or keeps me from striving to give my best to God?
How can I go the extra mile for someone else so that the Light will shine in them?