By Pastor Brad Hales
They were drawn in by the light. In the late 1980’s I was a volunteer youth group leader for a church in Northwestern Ohio. The senior high young adults had gathered one Sunday evening for a Christmas party in the basement of the building. I vividly remember one, long table adorned with food, drink and frosted covered sugar cookies. Unfortunately, only a few of the youth attended the event, as we wondered what could be done with the remaining edible items. As the evening was winding down, a faint knock was heard coming from the glass, outside door leading into the church.
As I went up the stairs to investigate, thinking that it was just one of the parents coming to retrieve their child, I was totally taken by surprise. When I opened the door, I encountered an anxious looking man on a mission. And as I greeted him, his initial words were clear and chilling. He said that his family was in the car with him, and they were hungry. They had just happened to see the shining light on the outside of the church building, so they decided to stop to see if there was any food to eat. They were drawn in by the light.
As both the wonder and the seriousness of the encounter resonated through my mind, I immediately invited the father and his family down the stairs to partake in the Christmas feast. The facial expressions of the church youth said it all. Many of them had never encountered homelessness. None of them knew hunger. But on that evening, they realized what Christmas was all about. Giving, serving, sharing the love of Jesus with others. As unexpected as this hungering family arrived, it quickly departed with extra food and full stomachs. But no one would ever forget how they had been drawn in by the light.
During this season of Advent, which is a time of anticipating, watching, waiting, preparing, and getting ready for the birth and second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are constantly being drawn into “The Light.” But this does not mean that we’re immune to the “daily darkness.” The darkness of anger. The darkness of negativity. The darkness of hate. The darkness of violence. The darkness of incivility. The darkness of selfishness. The darkness of indifference. This darkness may try to bring us down, but we are encouraged by something far greater. As it is written in John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it.” The Light is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. The One who will be born. The One who reflects God. The One who gave his life. The One who saves us from sin. The One who died, rose, and ascended. And the One who gives us hope, and commands us to love and serve our neighbors.
As we are drawn into this light of Christ through faith, let us share this living light with others. In Matthew 5:14-16 it is written, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they can see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Each time we love and serve others by the talents and the abilities in which the Holy Spirit has provided, we are literally shining the light of Jesus in this world.
In the next few weeks, the pace of life will probably be hectic. Decorating, gift buying, cookie baking, party going, music listening, present wrapping, and Christmas movie watching will dominate our time as we prepare for the season. But maybe, just maybe, we will take some time to focus on the light, the Light of the World Jesus Christ, and be open to sharing this light to our neighbors.
Christmas is all about being drawn in by the light……