One of my daughters and her family has adorned the outside of their house and front yard with a varied assortment of brightly lit Christmas decorations. It's not one of these homes that exhibits so many lights that it almost forces you to wear sunglasses as you drive by.But they do have enough of an array of holiday illumination to garner the attention of passersby, hopefully bringing joy and excitement to some children's hearts as they point and say, "Ooh, look at those Christmas lights!"
One of their outdoor displays is a Nativity scene. Unfortunately baby Jesus is experiencing some kind of malfunction and is refusing to light up this year. But I have confidence that my son-in-law will put his Mr. Fix-It skills to work and will eventually solve the problem.
But until he does, baby Jesus lays there at night as a rather dark and overshadowed figure amidst all the other brightly lit decorations.
I find that picture somewhat symbolic. First of all, it reminds us that there are people in the world who would like nothing better than to diminish Jesus' association with this holiday. They want His light to fade into the background. They work to take Christ out of Christmas, remove nativity scenes from public view, and secularize the season as much as possible.
But that picture of the eclipsed baby Jesus also illustrates what is happening in much of our society. Many people go through the season without giving any or much thought to its connection with Christ. For them, it's primarily about Santa, shopping, and sentimental memories.
Some will point to more noble values as family and giving as the main reason for the season, but not basing them on any biblical event in which God gave us the gift of His Son.
In the meantime, baby Jesus lays quietly in the background virtually unnoticed.
I'm afraid that even those of us who know and emphasize the real reason for the season need to be careful or we can allow the baby Jesus to become overshadowed by all the bustle of this time of year.
This week has been an especially busy one for me with such extra activities as gathering and delivering gifts to a needy family, going to see a grandchild's holiday program at school, and making final preparations for the church Christmas program.
Those are good things that I believe God wanted me to do. But let's not allow all those other bright lights in our lives to outshine the glorious truth of Christ coming into this world to be our Savior.
In the first chapter of John's Gospel, it describes Jesus as the true light. "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it" (1:5).
The good news is that the darkness cannot extinguish the light of Christ. He still shines, whether we see Him or not. If we're not seeing Christ at Christmas, it's not because Jesus, the Light of the World, is malfunctioning. The problem is with us, not with Him.
John goes on to say that Christ "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (1:14). Let's make sure that we're not allowing anything to hinder us from beholding the glory of Christ as we go through this Christmas season. Enjoy all the other lights of the holiday, but don't let them overshadow the true light of Jesus in your life.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.