December Pastor's Pen
Light is a significant part of celebrating the birth of Jesus who called himself the Light of the World. We light trees, Advent wreaths, candles and any number of things to symbolize our faith in the coming light that “pierces the darkness.”
November 11 was an unseasonably mild day in Chambersburg. Kathie and I took advantage of the warmer temperatures and put strings of lights on the shrubbery in front of our house, put up the annual lawn nativity, and focused the spotlights that will illuminate the Christ Child and the wreath on our front door.
We gave them a trial lighting that night to make sure all the bulbs from last year still work. However, we don’t intend to display them (unlike our early bird neighbors) until Thanksgiving because that’s “tradition.” NO CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UNTIL THANKSGIVING. Were you raised that way too?
On Saturday, November 16th, Kathie was visiting our grandchildren and drove through the little town of Ulster, PA in Bradford County. She noticed that nearly every home along the main thoroughfare was lit up and decorated for the holidays. Some of them displayed signs saying, “Praying for you, Ariah.” “Ariah, we fight with you.” Naturally, Kathie wondered about the Hallmark appearance of Ulster and who Ariah was.
It turns out that Ariah is a seven-year old girl from Ulster who has been diagnosed with a rare childhood disease. Her prognosis, unfortunately, is not very good. Ariah loves Christmas lights. And the whole community has come together around this little girl’s passion, defying tradition and gaily lighting up the homes and streets of Ulster in support of her.
The disciple, John, said that in Jesus is life and the light of that life shines in the darkness. It will not be timid; it will not be hidden; it will not take “no” for an answer. (John 1:4-5) The facts are, when the Light of the World came, he upended the traditional thinking of the day, being born in a stable, announcing his presence to a ragtag group of shepherds and living to love and serve the broken, sick and humble people that are important to God
– in other words, the Ariahs among us.
So maybe you might put up your decorations a little earlier than tradition warrants this year and let your light shine, as Jesus told his followers to do. And if anyone asks you why the rush, just tell them you’re doing it for the Lord and for Ariah this year.
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