What are your favorite family Christmas traditions? A McCarthy Christmas typically includes: selecting and decorating the perfect tree (Jordan insists on a bowling-ball shaped tree), wearing matching pajamas and ugly sweaters, hanging embroidered stockings from the mantle, setting out framed Christmas cards from years previous, playing and singing carols 24/7, packing a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child, baking mountains of cookies, eating breakfast casserole, and reading the Christmas story from the Bible. But one tradition is especially sweet to us. We pile in the car and drive down Ponte Vedra Boulevard admiring the white lights tightly wrapped around the palm trees lining the road; bright pillars shining in the darkness.
While no two families have identical Christmas customs, many share one thing in common: light. Why is light so central to the celebration of Christmas? Light shining in the darkness is a simple but profound picture of the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1–5).
Throughout the Scriptures, light represents God’s holiness, goodness, and impeccable purity. John explained, that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “Our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul declared, “is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:14-16). Thus, the six-winged seraphim veil their faces from the searing glory of Him who is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” (Isaiah 6:3).
The mystery of Christmas is that the Light of Light descended into the pure darkness of a wretched world to “taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end.” In love, he exchanged his righteous robe of light (Psalm 104:2) for the sin-stained rags of those he came to save. As the land was draped in darkness between the 6th and 9th hours of that dreaded day, so too, on the cross, the Son of God carried the sins of his people into the outer darkness of His Father’s wrath that there would be no condemnation for those who cling to him in faith.
May the twinkling lights of Christmas draw our hearts back in wonder and adoration to the Light of the World made flesh, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May each light remind us that we have been graciously called, “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” (1 Peter 2:9) that we might “walk as children of light,” (Ephesians 5:8).