Each year, Colonial Williamsburg celebrates an event they refer to as Grand Illumination. This happens the first Sunday of the first full week-end in December and leads off the Christmas season celebration. As the guests to the Historic Area watch in delight, the evening includes all kinds of “illuminations” and even a large display of fireworks that people arrive for hours in advance of the climax of the day. While it is one of my dreams to actually attend this event, Janet and I have never been to Williamsburg the first week of December and so this display remains on our bucket list!
Earlier today, I was reading a FaceBook post from a pastor acquaintance who actually lives in the Williamsburg area and he was reminding his readers of the connection between this annual Williamsburg ritual and the coming of Jesus to begin His earthly existence on the day that we celebrate as Christmas. While we, as Christians, recognize Jesus as the light of the world, we usually don’t think of the lights and illuminations that we all cherish this time of year as being symbolic of the light of the Christ child.
But, when you think of it, it makes perfect sense. We all like to decorate and celebrate, but the real reason for the season is the light of the world – Jesus Himself. And when we look at the trees and strings of lights and all the other symbols of Christmas light, we should be reminded of Jesus and His introduction to the world as the second member of the Trinity – wholly God and fully man at the same time. I don’t mean that we should necessarily associate the trappings of the season with the gift of Jesus, but throughout the entire New Testament we have evidences of the light of Jesus and the impact that He makes as the light of the world.
Our verse for this evening is from the Old Testament, in the book of Isaiah. We are told by the prophet, long before the birth of Christ, that Jesus would come. Isaiah tells us, in Isaiah 9:2, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” This was the prophecy of the arrival of Jesus. And, of course, during the ministry years of Jesus, John quotes Jesus in John 8:12, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
That’s wonderful news for all of us. My encouragement this evening is that as you put up the Christmas decorations this year, you will remember the coming of the light of the world – the Christ child. My prayer is that you will spend a little time focusing on the celebration that occurred with the angels and the shepherds those thousands of years ago as God sent His Son among us as a model of behavior for all mankind. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…