In praise of Christmas lights…

Posted on December 8, 2021

When we lived in Warwick, a highlight of Christmas each year was to visit the house of our friends, Jamie and Rosemary Taylor, to enjoy their Christmas lights display.

There seems to be something quite addictive about Christmas lights, doesn’t there? You begin with just a single stand of LED lights from Bunnings; next comes an inflatable Santa; and then, before you know it, you require a new shed to store all your Christmas paraphernalia. Why are these twinkling lights so magical?

For me, it is the idea of a light shining in the darkness: more than the ambience, there is an underlying metaphor that speaks about hope. Francis of Assisi captured this idea beautifully when he said – All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.

This theme wends its way through the bible. We first read of it in the book of Isaiah, written 700 years before Christ –

9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The people living in Israel at the time of Jesus’ birth knew all about “walking in darkness”. They were a conquered people, living under the rule of the merciless Roman empire. There was a ‘puppet’ on the throne – Herod – described by one historian as a “malevolent maniac.” The Jewish people under Herod and the Romans were longing for God to break into their world, for God’s Kingdom to be ushered in by the coming of the Christ (or Messiah). It was into this world that the light came, as described this way in the gospel according to John –

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

May I wish all members of the St Paul’s community – students and staff, parents and grandparents, past students and other friends of the School – a safe, refreshing and meaningful Christmas. As you light your candles and turn on your lights, give a thought to the reason for this season. Don’t forget also, that you and your family are welcome to join with others in the community at our (traditional) Carols service, on Sunday 19 December from 5.00 pm.

Mr Nigel Grant

Executive Director of Faith & Community

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