Let There Be Lights!

I have something of a love/hate relationship with Christmas lights.

I LOVE seeing them up, sparkling and twinkling their good tidings to the world. But honestly… I really HATE the work of getting them up there.

In the interest of safety, I have been forbidden to use anything higher than a stepladder to hang Christmas lights… which is probably a good thing. Lacking that constraint, I might be tempted to climb out to the tippiest, toppiest point on our roofline to fasten that ONE LAST light – only to become yet one more sad senior statistic.

This Christmas season – almost one year exactly since our move to Fort Collins, Colorado – was going to be a blessed respite from the luminous pressures of our previous neighborhood in Kansas City. 

For the past 10 years, Joan and I lived in a compact little 23-house neighborhood in Overland Park, Kansas called Terrace Place. However, between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day Terrace Place magically morphed into CHRISTMAS PLACE and became a must-see destination for people from all over the city. 

I am not exaggerating a bit when I say that lines of cars and tourist buses backed up for blocks, waiting for the chance to cruise slowly through Christmas Place, admiring the creativity and radiant revelry of the CP neighbors. Those visitors also always contributed generously to the Salvation Army kettle at the end of one of our cul-de-sacs.

We always LOVED seeing the joy on visitor’s faces. But we also DREADED the approach of those days of ladders and lights and extension cords and staple guns and Ben Gay ointment. 

And so, the plan – coming here into our new neighborhood – was to free ourselves completely from the pressures of The Show. Joan and I were going to be content putting up our homemade manger scene in the front yard, sticking a wreath on the front door, and calling it good.

But then came 2020.

Then came the time of the global pandemic… the time of unprecedented national discord and division… the age of overworked doctors and nurses, overstressed parents, terrified essential workers and people barely hanging on and people who lost their jobs… then came the time of fear and uncertainty and tension and trauma and – let’s just say it – DARKNESS

And so, we decided – with maybe a little hesitation at first – that 2020 was NOT the right year to take a Christmas lighting hiatus. If anything, this year seems to demand something like a defiant YES! to the deafening NO! that we seem to be hearing from every corner. 

Admittedly, the writer of John’s gospel did not have C9, multicolored, LED Christmas lights in mind when writing these words, but the point could not have been clearer in John’s prologue: “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5, NRSV).

JESUS – the true light of the world – came to earth expressly for the purpose of overcoming darkness with light.

I know it is a bit trivial and naïve to believe that stringing up a few strands of lights – stepladder height! – amounts to any kind of prophetic resistance to the powers of darkness and despair in the world. 

The REAL resistance for any of us, of course, comes in the form of the lives we lead and the burdens we lift in the process. 

But maybe, just maybe, those silly strands will pierce through someone’s cloud for a quick moment and they will look up and smile… and give thanks. 

Abundant blessings;

4 Responses to “Let There Be Lights!”

    November 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    BE CAREFUL !!!


  2. 2 Carol Congalton
    November 19, 2020 at 1:39 am

    Very cool! 😀

  3. November 19, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    “Let your lights so shine before men that they may see your lit-up strands and glorify you Father in heaven for not letting you fall to your death.” Abundant blessings indeed, Russ. Happy Thanksgiving and Christmas to come!

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