There are two kinds of people in this world:
Those that decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving
And those that don’t.
For years I was staunchly against decorating for Christmas before the first Sunday of December, if I decorated then.
In our house we follow a ritual of observing the season of Advent before we celebrate Christmas. And since Advent is about waiting and emptying and quieting ourselves so that we can receive the Christ child, I often just go with the bleakness of the coming-on-winter landscape as my backdrop for Advent. The empty, frost-covered fields and newly barren trees around our house usually seem decoration enough for a time of waiting and anticipation.
But this year was different.
This year when my daughter asked if we could start decorating for Christmas at the start of Thanksgiving break, I said, “Go for it!”
She was a little taken aback at first, but then immediately went on Pinterest to find ideas for decoration. Outdoor decoration at that. Decorations that involve lots of colorful lights.
Normally I would have stopped her in her tracks at putting colorful lights inside and outside and everywhere in between before Thanksgiving had even come, but this year I said, “The more lights the better.”
Why the sudden change of heart?
Because this year was hard.
This year was full of earthquakes and hurricanes and wildfires.
This year way too many people died in shootings.
This year every time I looked at the news there were stories of darkness.
This year I had waited long enough in the vast darkness of our world.
This year I craved light.
So this year out came the Christmas candles and as they came out I reminded myself,
The Light Shines in the Darkness and the Darkness did not overcome it.
This year when the tree went up I reminded myself that in a forest laid low by devastation that
A Shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow from his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest on Him.
And when my husband and children covered the bushes and door frame with colorful lights I reminded myself that
The people who walked in darkness have seen a Great Light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them the Light has shined.
What started out as mere decorations became acts of subversion.
Every strand of light strung became a protest of hope in a world of darkness.
Because though darkness seemed to have its way with us this year,
I know in my heart
Hope has the last word.
The Light of the World has come and will come again and darkness will never overcome it. Any time God’s people are walking in darkness, there is a Great Light getting ready to shine.
So if you, like me, have been discouraged by the darkness in recent times, I encourage you to shine your hopeful lights! Fire up the candles, string the lights, shine whatever light you have as a protest of hope in the darkness. For the darkness will not win. It will not overcome.
And if you need more words of encouragement of how the Light of Hope will overturn the darkness, may I offer you my advent devotional, Lighten the Darkness?
It contains a month’s worth of Scriptures and reflections and quotes about Light and Hope and finding our way through the darkness.
Whatever rituals you find to make your way toward Christmas, I pray that you may be filled with Hope and Light and Love at the Christ Child’s coming. Let the Weary World Rejoice.