John 1: 6-9. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
Christmas lights are one of my favorite things about Christmas. Today we find ourselves in the “shortest day” of the year and the longest period of darkness, yet most likely there is someplace you can visit that is lit up—perhaps even a house like the Griswold’s. If you’ve ever set up a light display, especially one that involves untangling strands of lights from previous years, you know what a task it is. It’s why many of us don’t go through the hassle and rather visit the folks who are pouring funds into the electric company. But regardless of how lit our home is, most of us have had the lovely experience of encountering a light strand that would just not work. When you plug it in, you know it—if it’s not the fuse, it’s one of the lights that has gone out. If you’ve bought a light-set that runs in a series circuit, you know this:
Each light always depends on another light to shine.
I think that’s perhaps the gospel writer John’s intent when he writes a rather strange interlude in the cosmic story of Christ’s coming in John 1. What is John the Baptist doing here anyway? Some scholars explain away John’s presence as a later addition that does not belong in such a majestic account of Jesus’ identity and origin. Yet John the Baptist’s presence here suggests that a critical response to Christmas is witness—our testimony of Christ’s light in our own lives and in the world around us. Christmas does not end when our trees dry up and go to the curb. Christmas is just getting started for those who confess Jesus as God who has become flesh.
All of us have stories of other finite “bulbs” that helped turn on Christ’s power in our life. Of course they include parents and grandparents, Sunday School teachers and pastors and priests. But they’re also the friends and co-workers and neighbors and coaches who loved us, were there for us, and when the time was right, invited us and shared the source of their light and hope. John tells us that that witness just may be the most powerful thing you ever do for someone who is in the dark.
Who in your life is experiencing darkness? Might God be asking you to bring light to them this Christmas?
Are you listening?