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Monday, November 28, 2011

Lighting the Candle

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made
his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the
knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

II Corinthians 4:7

It was a chilly Advent evening as Martin Luther trudged homeward through snow-covered woods. His mind was filled with weighty matters of church and ministry when suddenly he was overwhelmed by the beauty on display right before him. He saw fir trees freshly decorated with new snow, and stars glistening like diamonds against a dark sky. It was breathtaking!

Luther stopped to behold and longed to share the wonder with his beloved wife Katie and their children. Knowing he couldn’t find the words to describe what he was seeing, Luther went for an axe. He quickly returned and chopped down a fir tree and dragged it home to a surprised family. He melted wax on some of the tree branches in order to attach taper candles to them. Making it a teachable moment, Luther pointed to the branches green through the winter, and spoke of unending life in Christ. The candles burning on the tree, he said, remind them that Christ is God’s great Light shining in the world. This is the legend of Martin Luther bringing home the world’s first Christmas tree.

In today’s Advent text, the Apostle Paul writes about God’s great Light so dazzling in display in Christ Jesus. Paul’s words take us immediately back to the creation story in Genesis as darkness covers the earth. Then in obedience to God’s creative word, light bursts forth from the primordial darkness: “Let light shine out of the darkness”.

Paul likens the light of creation to the light of salvation that God makes “shine in our hearts”. Paul likely remembers how on the Damascus Road God shone the light of Christ into his darkened heart. It was through Christ Jesus, “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory”, that God turned on the light in Paul’s life. When God did that, everything was different; He became a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). The old things were passed away and all things made new.

Paul testifies that God will do the same for anyone who will look to Christ. God will say again his powerful word of creation: “Let the light shine”. When God speaks those illuminating words, His light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. We become God’s new creation in Christ!

Our son Rhett was born premature, and immediately developed jaundice. His pediatrician told us that in order to clear up the jaundice they were going to put Rhett under the “Jesus Light”. “Why do you call it the Jesus Light?” I asked. He smiled and said, “Oh, we call it the Jesus Light because it works miracles!”

Let the Jesus Light shine on you this Advent and work His miracle of new creation!

Christ is the world’s light, Christ and none other;
Born in our darkness, he became our brother.
If we have seen him we have seen the Father:
Glory to God on high!
– Fred Green




Loving Lord, we come to you as our Creator and our Redeemer, asking for your light to shine on our lives today. Drive away all clouds of darkness and fear. Fill us with your light and show us the way. Make us new creations in Christ. Amen.

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