I remember when the biggest journey of the Christmas season was piling into the car, bundled and swaddled in blankets and scarves and hats and double-layered clothes, to go light hunting. Looking with wonder at the creative expressions of those who anticipated the season of joy today lit my own heart. The route was usually the same. Many of the houses were simply shadowed with a halo of bulbs here or there. Nothing like the wonder of today.
Mostly, it was the window that would shine out a beckoning call, a signal that said, “We’re waiting”, with a candle or the silhouette of a tree twinkling. A visual reminder of the light that broke through the sky while the faithful were watching the weak and the lonely sat on the hills wandering through days that seemed long yet held infinite purpose.
Waiting is a skill that requires great faith, I am learning. A lesson that follows every tangent I take in these journeys of grace. I wonder with awe at the depth of God’s love for us as He waits with us, with provident provision prepared He meets at every turn we take… faithfully.
Faithful is He who is calling you [to Himself] and utterly trustworthy, and He will also do it [fulfill His call by hallowing and keeping you]. – 1 Thes. 5:23
His faithfulness is a wonder. It is a light that shines out to us reminding us, calling us, filling us with the expectation in waiting. Like the lone candle in a waiting window, our souls are transparent before the wonder of His coming.
We are the waiting, but are we looking for the light?
We are the expectant, but are we hoping for the unseen to be visible?
I still look for the lights. I still find the joy in the hunt for beauty. I still long to bundle in the blankets and the mittens and the double-layered everything. I hold my breath without knowing I am doing it. Anticipation meets my soul and I am met with an awareness that waiting is more than faith, it is the hope that what we wait for will be evidenced by the unseen made visible.
And the simple elegance of a single candle illuminating the darkness of a glass paned entry to a home always catches my eye. I wonder who is being called home by the beckoning glow.
As I read about the history of putting candles in the windows at Christmas it seemed to echo the sentiment of being called into the wonder of His grace for us. And it brought me back to the simplicity of the way we ought to be waiting with wonder, waiting with expectation, waiting with hope… because He promised an advent upon our world, the kind that comes in extravagant display of humble love.
There are many versions, as with any story, but the one that touched my heart the most told of the way that a persecuted people found hope in their waiting as they placed a candle in the window to welcome Mary and the Christ child. It was their only true decoration. It was a sacred and hallowed message that affirmed they were eager to be found by the Holy One. It started in England and made its way to the colonies where simplicity was a necessity, extravagance was not afforded.
I wonder if they had it right all along and if our abundance is crowding out the welcoming light not just in our homes but in our souls as well?
Isaiah said that a people walking in darkness saw a great light, a dawning light for the ones living in the dark places where shadows steal grace and hope is smothered by the oppressive weight life builds tall. This light that rattled the starry skies over the hilltops of the grazing, the beacon of hope that angels echoed in heralds of joy was a luminous multiplication of His love for the world. It was the breaking that let sin’s chain no longer hold us in…Because a Child was born and His star birthed hope in wise and humble alike.
And His glory settled. Manifested grace made miracles in dark places. Holiness bathed the rustic hallowed. Even in the shadowed space, light penetrates and wins. Even when you are drowning in the murkiness of unknowing, His light separates and divides the oppression and the burden and sets at liberty all that was bound.
“The Light never comes how you expect it. It comes as the unlikely and unexpected- straight into Bethlehem unlikely and the feed trough hopeless, and Christmas whispers there is always hope. It doesn’t matter how dark the dark is: a light can still dawn. It doesn’t matter if the world whispers, “There’s not a hint that help will come from elsewhere,” telling us that nothing will ever improve, get batter, change. God favors the darkest places so you can see His light the brightest.” – Ann Voskamp
Those candles were a prayer of faith for the waiting ones. A sign to the coming One that He was welcome there.
How are the lights burning in your heart friend?
All too often we miss the beauty of simply lighting our candles for Jesus. Welcoming him right in our mess because He already knows we are living life in the dark and the difficult as best we can. He longs for us to welcome Him in, expecting only an invitation not perfection.
Look for Jesus. Light the flame in your heart to welcome His coming. Christmas doesn’t begin only with Advent and end at Epiphany, because it is every single day lighting the candle of your soul with the fire of His faithful love. He is the dawning bright morning to our dark midnight waiting. He breaks through our broken places, the space were barrenness seems multiplied, and sheds glory rays that meet and mend and cascade grace.
He is our light. ( John 8:12) His grace is the substitute for our provision. (2 Cor 8:9) He became our stand in, the beacon that breaks the hold dark days cloud. He is the light for the dark, light for death, hope for despair, peace in the chaos, forgiveness instead of judgment, adoption replacing abandon.
Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”-John8:12
He chose the wood and the nail, both the trough and the Cross from the first. He loved us in the hard humility of our humanity from the beginning. Always light seems to herald His coming. In creation and in the incarnation, grace wins always.
An unexplainable extravagant light divide the darkness in the beginning. A star born to point to a king with anthem of angels welcomed love to our world. If we look for the light, simply waiting… we will find the hope that ends our dark of the soul nights. Because Christmas truly never ends when Jesus is the One who sparks the hope-light for you.
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