SPIRITUAL MATTERS: The light has come!
It's happening again! And it may well be that it's happening in a bigger, brighter and more extravagant way this year!
I'm thinking of all those magnificent displays of Christmas lights that adorn houses, verandahs and front gardens in hundreds of towns, villages, suburbs and streets across this great land.
Perhaps after the kind of year we've all experienced with its unprecedented menu of restrictions and challenges that we would not have thought possible this time last year, we're finally releasing the pent-up desire to let go - and create a bigger, brighter impact this Christmas.
As a Christian, I'm managing to push to one side my concern at the secular and superficial images of Santa and his reindeer; fake pine trees to which empty boxes are tied; pretend snow; and strobe lights that pulse to Christmas songs that have little or no relevance to the true meaning of Christmas!
No 'bah' and 'humbug' will escape my lips upon observing these displays - even though so many miss the point of the real meaning of Christmas.
Why? Because the creativity that has spawned these elaborate and costly displays underlines the need that is intrinsic to every person; the need to celebrate - and to celebrate with abandon and with joy and with unbridled enthusiasm.
Like many others, I love light!
The neon-clad environs of big city centers at night prove alluring. And in this modern age, the simple LED has moved these spectacular displays to a new level of spectacular. Indeed, the LED has illuminated our world to a level undreamt of a decade ago. Just look at all those modern cars with LED daytime running lights, turn indicators and light bars replacing the humble halogen driving lights so beloved by drivers so recently.
We bought new lounges the other week. Each one has a blue strip-light along the skirt and blue illumination behind the electric controls. In the recent past, when we've needed to buy a new hot water jug, I've been drawn to the ones that bathe the agitating water in blue light. And soft blue LED's create a cosy atmosphere and a subtle calming effect at night in the saloon lights of the coaches I drive.
All this focus on the power of light leads me to reminisce about Jesus - the Light of the World.
We all know that light dispels darkness; that evil flourishes under cover of darkness; that bad things are shared on an internet platform called the Dark Web! For the natural environment for evil is darkness.
So the metaphor of light as central to our celebration of Christmas is no coincidence. For in the scriptures, the apostle John introduces his gospel by identifying Jesus as "the True Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every person."
"The image of light dispelling darkness is central to our understanding of the birth, life and ministry of Jesus. As a celebration of light, Christmas is the festival that points to the glory of God in the revelation of his Son in Bethlehem's humble manger. We rightly point to Christ's birth as the central event of human history - the dividing line between the age of darkness and the age of light.
All this is reason enough to celebrate Christmas, for our response to this gift of light must be a celebration of thanksgiving, and rejoicing.
And the more light we can shed on this world-changing event, the better; for Jesus said: 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life'