I was driving home last night when I looked down the railroad tracks that run through the middle of our town of Ashland, Virginia. For an instant it looked as if there were giant candy canes lining both sides of the tracks. That obviously wasn't the case, but the street light posts wrapped in Christmas lights made it appear that way for as far as I could see.
I parked my truck and got out and walked back toward town to take the picture above. I thought about how cool it is to live in a small town that decorates itself so festively for the holiday season. Our town has a holiday parade every year the weekend after Thanksgiving -Santa bringing up the rear - and then the Christmas season is brilliantly under way. Your particular place in the world can add so much to the spirit of the season.
As I walked away, I imagined the darkness that faced the shepherds in the story of Jesus' birth. As they tended their flocks, there were no street lights like the ones lighting up my night in an otherwise sleepy central Hanover County. So just how much more were the shepherds overcome by the beauty of it all when the angel appeared:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The shepherds were so moved by the appearance of the angel and the light that shone around them that they dropped everything they were doing and headed for Bethlehem to find this baby. (I've always wondered what happened to the flocks). They found the baby the angels spoke of, and they went on to tell everyone they saw about the beauty and the light they found in the story of their Savior.
Walking back to my truck, I challenged myself. It can't be enough to see the endless strands of light that shine on the worldwide stage of this Christmas holiday. I have to follow the shepherds lead and seek the ultimate source of that light. And when I do, I have to become that light. For just as we lean on the story of the Shepherds' faith thousands of years later, someone needs to lean on mine. And yours.
Enjoy the lights of this season.
Be the light of the seasons to follow.
You can read previous entries from this 2015 Christmas series by following the links below:
Christmas 2015 - December 1
Christmas 2015 - December 2
Christmas 2015 - December 3