Is the UK unique in the competitive illumination of homes and gardens each Christmas? One can only speculate at the cost of lights, decorations, and electricity for some of the most elaborate offerings. In contrast when taking a stroll around Roskilde in Denmark earlier this week very few homes were displaying external decorations or Christmas lights. Even the local hospital offered the bare minimum in decoration for their tree, which was described as simply adorned by Julie Cook in a comment on my previous post.
Thinking back to the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus the simplicity of God’s plan to introduce His Son to the world is astounding. The Jewish people’s expectation of a Messiah appeared not to have been met in the child born of working class parents in what must surely have been the least sterile of environments. Jesus entered the world as simply adorned as the Christmas tree in Roskilde. How appropriate then that shepherds and foreigners were invited to visit the Son of God, not the local king or the Roman governor of the time.
I’m glad that Jesus arrived simply adorned. Why? Because it confirms God’s expectations of me. He expects me to come simply adorned, in quiet surrender, aware that I am right at the bottom of the pecking order, knowing that I am not worthy. Further confirmation is provided in the interactions that Jesus had with men and women and children during the three years He spent travelling. Jesus brought the love of God for His children out of the established religious order and into the simply adorned places where ordinary people lived and worked. Jesus showed many times that when we come to God knowing we are nothing, and aware that we have nothing, then God receives us and can make us something.
If the message of Christmas is to mean something in our lives (and in our church fellowships), then surely the key is to remain in a place of simplicity. Complicating the message to make it attractive in the way that a home brightly decorated with Christmas lights seems to be attractive is not the answer. People stop to look at the lights and then pass by knowing that in two or three weeks the lights will be gone. Then they forget about them for the rest of the year.
The challenge of Christmas for me is to make sure that the light in my life does not go out after Christmas. It is also to remember that the light is not my own. God desires my life to reflect His light. It is only when it does that God can begin to use me. Knowing I have no light of my own, all I can do is to come on my knees daily into God’s presence and ask that He would fill me again with His Holy Spirit. And then go out into whatever the day may hold simply adorned with the love of God. And that ought to bring a smile to my face whatever the world might throw at me!
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.” (John 8:12 NLT)