When The Christmas Lights Seemed Brighter

It's the season of Advent, and all around me the air is thick with expectation.  Last night I had to go to several stores to pick up a few things, including a Christmas tree.  Shoppers were out in full force, the stores were filled with decorations, lights and the faint smell of cinnamon.  

This is easily my favorite time of the year, but in spite of the way my heart swells whenever I see Christmas lights, I couldn't help but reflect on something sobering yesterday.  

No matter how we try to dress it up, this world really isn't as it should be.  

I made the mistake of turning on the Television yesterday for a while to watch a cable news channel, and it didn't take long for me to regret that decision.  

It was business as usual on TV, complete with tales of woe, talking heads arguing with each other, impending doom and all the rest of it.  And there were also dispatches from war torn regions of the world, news of shootings, tragedies and disasters.  

As I stood there in a store filled with the sounds of Christmas music and surrounded by twinkling lights, I had a sense of longing that washed over me like a wave.  

"Come quickly, Lord Jesus." I thought in that moment.  "Come quickly.  We need you."  

We spend so much time during this Blessed Season of Advent getting ready for things, preparing our homes, gathering gifts, scheduling events, rushing from place to place to get it all right.  

And all along what we need the most is not found in any of those things.  

Because the gifts will be unwrapped in a couple of weeks, and shortly after that, the decorations will be taken down.  The world will move on to the next thing.  It will be business as usual all around us, without all of the music and lights to hide it.  

Jesus told his disciples, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Luke 21:33)  

E. Stanley Jones wrote that that Jesus' words of hope are the one thing we can hold on to that lasts,  "Because reality cannot pass away, and His words are distilled reality."  I love that phrase: distilled reality.    

The Christmas lights on my street seemed brighter to me after I took this in, and even my Christmas tree seemed majestic.  "You are near," I found myself half-whispering/praying.  "I can feel you--You're what's real in all of this."  

May you experience the very presence of the Prince of Peace during this incredible time of year.  May you realize that though the world is not as it should be, the One who has come to set things right is already at work to change the world--beginning in your own heart.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 

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