Christmas is just a few days away. So much is happening to make this year’s Christmas even more special than usual. I spent last night searching the skies to view the Christmas Comet. I am an amateur astronomer, but I found the directions for where to look a little more complicated than they needed to be. First, I was to find the Constellation Orion, then look northeast-ish from there, to find Taurus. Using the red star, as a guide, then I was to locate the Pleiades star cluster. The comet was just below that, and looks like a green ball. A lot of work for a soft blur. In searching for that one specific light, I was still amazed by the number of stars visible in my backyard. I could see hundreds of stars, despite the brightness of the moon. The comet only added to the wonder of starlit nights during December.
There are other lights that are a part of this season. A Christmas Tree isn’t truly decorated unless there are lights on it. Some people invested time in the Summer months hanging lights that would only be displayed during this time of the year. Luckily, there are stores which offer us standing sleighs, reindeers and even Nativity scenes with their own lighting. No need to untangle the strings of lights anymore.
The most special light I have seen this year sits in the Sanctuary of one of our churches. The light’s journey is a remarkable story of Emmanuel, God with us. The flame began at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The church commemorates the birthplace of our Lord and Savior. A flame from the Grotto of Jesus’ birth was taken to light a candle which made its journey across the waters between Israel and the United States. One of our pastors then went to Lansing where the light was being displayed, and brought it to the Grand Rapids area.
If that light could speak, imagine the story it would tell. In a way it was born and laid in a special little chamber, to make it ready to travel around the world. Every so often, someone might look at it to make sure that it didn’t go out. The vessel which held the light needed to be checked every so often, to make sure that there was enough fuel to sustain it. Traveling over land, water and possibly by air, the little lamp would’ve been jostled and wind blown as it made it from point to point. At each destination, people would come and touch the flame, and what was once a single light became hundreds, maybe even thousands more. Each of those lights has been touched by people who have wanted to bring a bit of God’s light into their churches and homes. That first light came from the eternal flame located in the Grotto of the Nativity. And, in just a few short weeks, the light has spread around the world.
The pastor in our District carried the light from Lansing to Grand Rapids, and from Grand Rapids to Cedar Springs. The light has been in their church, shining each day, and reminding us of the light which is to come. Over the past couple of weeks, I have looked through my supply of candles, trying to determine which one I would take to the church. That way, I could keep the light from Bethlehem in my home until Christmas. I realized that candles don’t last forever. Even if I used my tallest one, I could only keep the flame going for about 24 hours. I thought about purchasing a lantern, but then I would need to trim the wick and refill the oil regularly, to keep the flame burning.
As I attended a Cantata at the church yesterday, I realized I could take a picture of the flame, and store it in my phone and on my computer (Dare I say “duh”?). That way, each time I see it, I will be reminded of the place of our Savior’s birth and how that one event continues to transform our lives. I share it with you and invite you to remember that the light of Christmas, present in this lantern, also shines in each of our hearts. Imagine how the world would be transformed, if each of us shared the light which is in us with another person. I believe that is how the wondrous news of Jesus’ birth was intended. Go tell it on the mountain! Jesus Christ is born!
I wish each of you and your families the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Years.