Christmas Lights in Lent
“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in God may not perish but may have eternal life . . . .And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” – John 3:16, 19
The cavalierness with which people hold up the first half of the above quote at football games, Sharpied onto cardboard, gets me. It’s as if they don’t realize they’re holding a lit stick of dynamite, dynamite that explodes in the second half of the quote.
“Because their deeds were evil.” That is, our deeds are evil. Our sin-nature means that none of us is immune from doing evil. Even the guy holding the cardboard. If we think we’re special, uniquely good, we’re mistaken. That black-and-blue mood you get in sometimes, for no good reason? Call it a by-product of living in this brooding, broken world.
At our house, we leave our Christmas lights up until nigh on Easter some years. Part of it is inertia. Part of it is because we live close enough to the Arctic Circle that those twinkling lights make a big difference to our mood, come mid-winter. And when I walk into the house after a hard day, and it’s pitch dark at 4:55pm, the Christmas blue-green-red illuminates the room just enough that I don’t bump into the furniture and bark my shin.
And I think: this is what it’s like, the Light that is coming into the world. We are walking around the dark room of the world, barking our shins, getting black and blue. And then God comes in and turns on Christmas lights ahead of us, one at a time. It’s not enough light to live by forever, but it’s enough, for now.
God of blue moods and broad daylight, give us enough light to see by, until the great and glorious day when there is no more night at all.
Molly Baskette is lead pastor of the quirky, loveable and truth-telling First Church Somerville UCC in Somerville, MA. Read their personal testimonies in her latest book, Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession.