Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
One of the gifts of the Christmas season is its luminosity…the way the season lights up offering a feast for the eyes. I love the twinkle lights on both outdoor and indoor trees, the variety of lighting displays in our neighborhoods and store windows. But personally, the greatest Christmas light comes from candles that glow in windows, on the Advent wreath, and on our holiday dinner table. Candleglow is etched in my memory of celebrating a Hungarian family tradition each year on Christmas Eve at the home of my maternal grandparents. My cousins, ranging in age from five to twelve, and I would put on homemade white ‘angel’ robes sewed by our grandmother. She tied gold tinsel belts around our waists and placed a gold tinsel halo in our hair. As she played Silent Night on the piano, my aunts and uncles sang the familiar words as we cousins descended the stairs into the darkened living room, each carrying a small candle. We lit our parents’ candles and then the candles that were affixed to the ends of the Christmas tree. In these special moments of our family gathered ’round, softly singing the ancient carol, the candlelight filled the room with luminous expectation.
Now here we are in these days leading up to Christmas, when the need for the Presence of the Light of the World has never been greater. As we look for the light at the end of the tunnel of Covid, and the light at the end of this Advent season in the birth of the Christ child, we can rest on the assurance of Jesus’ promise: “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” This assurance comes as a special gift of Christmas, to know that we are never alone during the dark times, that the Christ will see us through. But our Lord asks a commitment from us: “Whoever follows me,” he says, “will have the light of life.” So give yourself the gift this Christmas of committing or recommitting your life to following the Luminous One who comes to bring life in abundance.
Kathe Rhinesmith, our guest contributor, has been a member of Naples UCC since 2013. Kathe is a Faculty presenter with Veriditas, the global organization that is dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience.
For those in despair
Light of the World, be near as we prepare to receive you into our hearts again this Christmas. Thank you for becoming the Word made flesh, for dwelling among us, and assuring us that, in Your Light, we see light. Amen.