“Grab a cookie and the hot chocolate! Load up the car. Let’s go look at Christmas lights.”
Do you have an all-time favorite light display? Some of us may remember a famous light show that began here in Little Rock. Fulfilling the Christmas wish of his youngest daughter, he covered his house with a thousand red lights. While not many particularly noticed that year, it was different just a few years later when cars lined up for miles in both directions to see Jennings Osborn’s Christmas light display. What was the difference? The display had grown to millions of lights. After the Osborne’s stopped the annual display in Little Rock due to traffic problems, they were invited to take it to Disney World where, as the “Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights”, it dazzled park visitors from 1995-2015.
In the first verses of a passage often included in Advent, the prophet Isaiah writes, nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isa. 9:1-2)
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)
The apostle Paul writing to the Christ-followers in Ephesus teaches us, for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
Several years ago, individual churches in our community occasionally let their lights shine, but like the early days of the Osborne Christmas lights, few in the community had noticed. This changed, however, when central Arkansas churches united in a “light show” of good works that our community could not miss. A hundred churches and thousands of volunteers worked together on the same weekend to serve neighborhoods and schools. A decade of ShareFest serve days led to CityFest with Luis Palau where 250 churches and organizations partnered together in community projects and a festival where the gospel was proclaimed in word and deed. and hundreds responded to the invitation to follow Christ.
Churches are continuing to work together in serving children in foster care, helping students struggling to read at grade level, and helping families who need additional support. As we work together to serve the greatest needs in our community, we create a brighter light show that makes the gospel more visible and beautiful. We fulfill Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:16,
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
As we enjoy the lights of Christmas this year, may we remember we are a part of the greatest light show on earth. How will you let your light shine?