When Lights are No Longer Needed. Christmas in New Zealand, part 1

Christmas at DunedinHouse decorated for Christmas

"In your light we see light." (Ps 36:9 NIV)

One fact is clear in New Zealand: There is no need for artificial lights in the presence of the sun. This is especially true in December. Due to their location in the Southern hemisphere, December is the beginning of summer, the season of the longest days.

While travelling through both the northern and southern islands last Christmas, I didn't find any houses decorated with outdoor Christmas lights, and I only found one tree with lights. The lack of Christmas lights puzzled me, and I asked one of our local bed and breakfast hosts about it. Their explanation was simple: "The sun goes down so late in the evening that no one would be able to see the Christmas lights anyway. So why hang them?

Good point!

Jesus' birth was announced with a bright light in the sky. "We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." (Matt 2:2 NIV)

Truly the real source of light has already come to live in our neighbourhood, and His light can be clearly felt by everyone! "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." (John 1:9 NIV) "I am the light of the world." (John 9:5 NIV)

Although we are encouraged to reflect Christ's light in this world, our lights are quite dim compared to His! "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:16 NIV). Instead of the unselfish love emphasized by God, we seem to promote our own agendas. Instead of being the Good Samaritan, we too often act like the hurried priest or the Levite (See Luke 10:30-36). The world too often sees us as biased and opinionated, and at times, even hateful.

We can change their opinion of us this Christmas by letting our lights brightly reflect the love of Christ. It's time we put a stop to acting like the Pharisees of Jesus' times and instead, follow in the footsteps of the One we are proclaiming as the Messiah.

How can we let our lights shine?

Remember, monetary gifts are less important than being there for people, so let's take the opportunity this season to visit someone in real need and bestow that individual with selfless love. Let's invite a lonely person over to celebrate with us, and let's treat that individual as our guest of honor, bestowing on him/her our best food and our full attention.

The idea is simple: Instead of spending a fortune on buying gifts that will likely be set aside after a month or so, let's start spending time with those who feel broken-hearted and rejected! Let's bring them Hope! Let's help them change their dark night into a bright morning so that they may experience this truth: That our loving God is the only light we ever need.

"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light." (Rev 22:5 NIV)

It's time we let the Sun shine!

What would you prefer: A lavish gift or being loved? Gifts will eventually fade out, but love will shine for eternity!

Rob Chaffart

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