As autumn has descended upon North Dakota, my walk to the office in the morning is more and more in the dark. I enjoy these crisp mornings as I follow my accustomed route through the neighborhoods of our little town. I was made aware recently that my daily journey is far from unnoticed. Several people have mentioned seeing me stroll past their house. Although it seems natural to me, they seem to think that I walk at a fast pace. I guess I have been walking with purpose.
As the mornings grow darker, I have begun to observe some things that I had never noticed during the summer months. One thing is the number of homes where the glow of a TV is evident through the un-curtained windows. I don’t peek into the window to discern what is being watched, but the glow of the TV is obvious to anyone who is passing by.
The other day I caught a glimpse of something that took me by surprise. It was a totally different kind of light coming from the window. It wasn’t a TV on a far wall, but prominently displayed in the front for all the see. It was a lighted Christmas tree, adorned with tiny white lights. It is not unusual to see a Christmas tree in a front window in late November and December. It is odd to see one so prominently displayed in early October. I don’t know the story behind this sight, but it has made me think.
The focus of October, for better or for worse, is Halloween. Throughout our town there are multiple displays of pumpkins and round bales of hay decorated for this holiday. Our local café is decked out with spider webs and other symbols of the season. If my memory serves me correctly, there will be a parade of school children all dressed in their Halloween costumes in the near future. In the midst of all of this Halloween frivolity, a lighted Christmas tree stands in stark contrast.
In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that, as His disciples, we should be lights in our community, standing out from the rest. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
If I may take the liberty to paraphrase Jesus’ words, we are to be lighted Christmas trees in a Halloween world. Our lives should display the light of Christ in a world that too often prefers the darkness. Our light is to be openly displayed, not shrouded by curtains so that only a faint glow is visible. The light of our faith should be prominent for all to see. We are not called to be a spotlight, blinding those around us. We are called to be a warm light that invites others into its glow.
In a very short time, there will be many lighted Christmas trees in front windows. But I am impressed by the one that is there now. It reminds me that even though our world can be a dark place, the light of Christ can still penetrate the darkness at any season of the year, offering hope and love to all who will embrace it. So, I want to encourage you to put your ‘lighted Christmas tree” in the front window of your life.
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”