In my experience, plants seldom flower exactly when they are supposed to. But this year, my Christmas Flowering Cactus is spot on.
In the beginning there was nothing but darkness. But God was there, in the darkness. God didn’t like the darkness, so he said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, amazing, incredible, light. Light that lets you see and understand. And God saw that the light was good, very good indeed. Next God created the water, the sky and the land. Plants and trees, sun, moon and stars, fish and animals. Then God created people, just like you and me. And God said it was all good, very, very good. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. So all the people lived in the light, and in understanding with God.
Time passed. People changed and became selfish, wanting their own way. They became unkind, greedy, violent, cruel. And they didn’t like God seeing everything they did. So they turned away from the light of God and their hearts became full of darkness. They did hateful things in the shadows, thinking that the darkness would hide them and that God wouldn’t see.
But God did see. He could see that His wonderful world wasn’t good anymore. And He wanted to do something about it. So He made plans to bring the light back. For a long time He planned. For hundreds of years He planned. And sometimes He let his friends in on the secret, just a little. Isaiah was one of His friends. Isaiah said that one day in the future, “The people walking in darkness and living in shadow would see a great light.”
So hundreds of years later, when the time was just right, the true light, that could give light and understanding to everyone, came into the world. His name was Jesus. He was God’s own son, a part of God himself, come to earth to shine His light into the darkness. When the angels spread light across the hillside, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to see the new baby in the manger. When the wise men followed the light of the star, they came and gave gifts to the brand new baby king. Jesus grew up knowing he was the light of the world. He said “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” And, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Another time He said, ” I have come into the world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
But people still didn’t like the light, because it showed up the bad things they did, so they tried to put out the light, by killing Jesus on the cross. But God’s light could not be turned off, and could not be extinguished. Jesus didn’t stay dead! He came back from the dead, and walked around with his friends, and once he even cooked breakfast for them. Before He went back to heaven to be with Father God, He handed the job of carrying the light on to His followers – and that’s us, you and me! The apostle Paul said, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. So live as children of light.” Another time he said ” We are all sons and daughters of the light, we do not belong to the darkness.” In one of his letters, Peter said, “You are a chosen people, belonging to God, so you can praise Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
Now we who are Christians carry that light, because, “God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.” Some of us think we are only little lights, and some of us may think we are bigger lights, but we are not asked to carry the light on our own. Just like a string of fairy lights, we are joined together, you, me, and all who follow Jesus. We need the power of electricity to light each bulb in a string of fairy lights, and if we ask him to, God’s Holy Spirit gives each of us the power to shine out for Jesus in our little bit of the world. Batteries, or a power cable in our string of lights are useless, if we don’t choose to plug in and switch on. And it’s no good if we don’t choose to plug into God, and be switched on by God’s Holy Spirit. Each of us can be a little light for Jesus, and
joined together we can be a big light for Jesus.
Bible references (some slightly paraphrased!): Genesis 1:1-3, Isaiah 9:2, John 1:9, John 8:12, John 9:5, John 12:46, 2 Corinthians 4:6, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 John:5
I don’t know about you, but my Christmas dinner was perfect. The turkey was cooked to a turn, with succulent chestnut stuffing, crispy potatoes, and lots of tasty veg. Then we had homemade Christmas pudding and delicious orange brandy butter. All the preparations paid off, and everything was ready at just the right time (or very nearly).
The star hovers over Bethlehem, and there is the sound of a baby crying, Mary and Joseph had found the stable in time. The angels filled the sky with their songs, and the shepherds were suitably amazed and rushed straight off to see the baby. The Wise-men, however, are still en route from the East, but we always knew they would be late – they’ve had a long way to come!
And so, the stage is set, the cast is assembled, and the baby born. God’s preparations were impeccable, everything happened at just the right time. And now we watch and wait, because through the birth, and through the life and death of this baby, God will change the world, one person at a time.
Christmas blessings to all my followers, friends and family, and all who read this post. May God shine his light into your darkness, and may He give you peace.
“We’re nearly there. The presents are around the tree. The stuffing is defrosting ready to stuff the turkey. It’s too late to send any more cards, too late to buy any more presents. Time to warm up the mulled wine.”
“We’re nearly there. Time for bed you young ones. We’ve left the sherry and mince-pie out for Santa, so listen out for the reindeer, and no peeking till morning.”
“We’re nearly there Mary. I can see the lights of Bethlehem up ahead.”
“Hurry up Joseph, I think I can feel the baby coming.”
“Hold on a little longer Mary. There’s no room at the inn, but there’s a stable around the back.”
“Nearly there, Gabriel? Are the angel choirs assembled? Are their trumpets tuned? Are they ready to tell the shepherds as soon as the baby arrives?”
“Are you nearly there Wise-men from the East, bringing your gifts?”
“No. A long way to go yet, I think we may be a little late.”
“Wait through the night. It may be dark, but morning will soon be here.”
Christmas preparations have stepped up a gear, the day is fast approaching. The presents are wrapped, the cards written, most of the food tightly packed in the fridge, and the ham is gently steaming on the hob. Family are on their way through the festive traffic jams, so there are still beds to make, and a mountain of other chores to do before they arrive.
Mary and Joseph are getting ready for their journey to Bethlehem. The donkey is saddled, some food packed, and a few simple baby clothes carefully stowed away, just in case.
Far away some oriental gentlemen are looking excitedly at the new star in the night sky. After checking their ancient writings, they have decided to saddle up their camels and follow the star in search of the new king it proclaims.
If yesterday was a day stuck between dark and light, for me today is a day stuck between death and life. We are in Advent, and yesterday I was looking forward to Christmas 2017, but today I am looking back to a very different Christmas in 2006. Eleven years ago today, after a short illness, my husband Geoff at the age of 51, passed from this life to the next, and I felt as though the world had ended. But the world didn’t end, I got used to a new normal, and here I am, eleven years on. My old plans and expectations were changed, I have changed. I have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law, a wonderful son and daughter-in-law, and also now a very wonderful grandson. I miss Geoff of course, even now, but life goes on, albeit different to what I had expected, and life is still good; very good. And as I look forward to this Christmas, I can see in the birth of Jesus that God is still good; very good.
Today is the shortest day of the year for us in the Northern hemisphere. It is the winter solstice. The sun is low in the sky, and it is the first official day of winter. It is a day stuck between dark and light, on the knife-edge between the seasons. This month, this week, every afternoon has been cut short by an ever earlier dusk, sometimes with a flurry of sunset red and gold, but fading quickly into black night. Today maybe the shortest day, but the hope of longer days dawns tomorrow, albeit very slight at first. The see-saw has fallen, light has won again; for a time.
But still we hold our breath and wait, for an everlasting light. A few more days of twinkling Christmas lights will lessen the gloom, for soon we will welcome the Light of the World, who seeks to take away the darkness within us, forever.