At Christmas time, love is in the lights

I like most everything about Christmas. From Christmas music, to movies, to lights, this is as good as it gets for me until Jesus comes back.

Recently I’ve begun to really appreciate Christmas lights, but strangely not simply because I have a 6 month old who will soon enjoy them. I think there’s something nestled deep within the sentiment of outdoor Christmas lighting: a remnant of neighborly love even in unfriendly neighborhoods. It is a remnant, which for me, divulges the essence of love. I dare say, love is in the lights. Let me explain.

What do you do after going outside to turn on the Christmas lights? You may take a quick glance at your decorative skills, but you’ll soon head inside for dinner or the evening news. Or when you come back from the store at night, and pull into your driveway, you may think, “I’m glad I did lights again this year.” But after the garage door comes up, then goes down, what do you do? Again, you head inside for the evening.

Here’s what I’m getting at. When you go inside, do you immediately turn off the Christmas lights? No. In fact, some folks keep them on all night.

If you’re like many folks, you’ll not go outside again until the morning (unless you have a 6 month old like I do who hates being inside).

Well, what is the purpose of leaving them on when YOU can’t enjoy them any further? I mean last time I checked, lights required electricity, and electricity cost money. They are costing YOU money.

So if I leave my lights on (let’s just assume they are more dazzling and glorious than the non-twinkling uni-colored white lights I have), what I’m doing is showing love to my neighbors.

I’m letting them see my lights and enjoy them. I’m letting those who would drive by my house (again I live at the end of a cul de sac, so this is clearly hypothetical) find joy in my lights.

And it is for them, not for me, that I leave them on. It costs them nothing. It costs me, well, little, but it still costs me.

And that’s really a simple definition of what love is: finding your joy in the joy of another, even when it costs you. Even when you can’t see their joy.

So when you see Christmas lights, be reminded of what love really is. And look to the One who loved first for the means and motivation to love your neighbor with more than your lights.

Geoff Henderson, associate pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, 4455 30th St. E., Bradenton., can be reached at (941) 727-3408 or e-mail him at : Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Herald, written by local clergy members.