Tonight, here in Williamsburg, Janet and I fulfilled one of the items on our bucket list. In fact, I wrote about this two years ago this week – we hoped that one day we would be able to witness, here in Williamsburg, the official beginning of the Christmas season by attending Grand Illumination. And earlier this evening, we fulfilled this dream with friends from Carmel – Dave and Karen Arland, as well as their daughter, Katy, and her boyfriend, Devin.
This night has been a long time coming. We have thought about this event for years but for some reason, it never worked out with the timing. However, this year, we had to be in Williamsburg on business so it worked out just fine. For those of you who don’t know about it, Grand Illumination is held the first Sunday evening in December and celebrates the official beginning of the Christmas season, complete with singers, fife and drum corps, street fires throughout Colonial Williamsburg and a finale of spectacular fireworks, coordinated from three different locations in the historic district.
We happened to tag along with the Arlands, as they are old hands at this and we are relative newbies to the intricacies of the celebration experience. We are staying in the historic district at the Williamsburg Lodge and have thoroughly enjoyed our weekend here. But we were totally unprepared for the grandeur we experienced tonight. After a wonderful afternoon spent along the James River plantations with Janet’s sister, Nancy, we returned to our room in time to walk over to the celebration, easily accessible to us.
We saw all the street fires and the small groups of people talking and laughing together in the dark evening. The weather was great and some estimates put the crowd in the area as high as 150,000 – but it didn’t seem too crowded. Everything was orderly and people were full of the Christmas Spirit. The fireworks and other “illuminations” even have a theological overtone. They were originally symbolic of the celebration of the birth of Jesus in the world – the “light of the world” to Christians. So each fire, candle and firework is meant to remind us of Jesus and the magnificence of His holy “light.”
Anyone who witnessed tonight’s spectacular display couldn’t help but be awed by the joy in the crowd as they watched, mesmerized by the lights and color of the explosions in the sky! On top of all this, there was a full Super Moon this evening and I can’t even begin to describe the backdrop of God’s divine handiwork behind our human celebration. I don’t know that we will ever witness this combination of events again. It was made even more special by sharing this with our friends from back home.
Another kind of illumination comes to mind as I replay the events of the day. That is, the Bible tells us that we can gain “illumination” in understanding the Bible after we accept Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. We are told that the Holy Spirit helps us understand God’s word far better than we could ever do without His help. Tonight’s verse confirms this through the words of Jeremiah, the prophet. He tells us, in Jeremiah 33:2-3, “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
In other words, God will reveal Himself to us through the pages of Scripture when we accept Him as the light of the world – our personal Lord and Savior. My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to be illuminated by His word. My prayer is that you will be as awestruck by the power and nature of God as you are by the greatest fireworks display that anyone has ever seen! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…