I love Christmas lights, especially white lights. They make me feel happy; I keep a few twinkle lights burning all year long.
And I'm not the only person who loves twinkling lights. At this time of year, houses throughout the nation are aglow with holiday decorations.
If we could ride through the night with Santa, we would see the constant sea of glittering Christmas lights from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from North Dakota to Texas.
It is thought that Martin Luther was the first person to introduce the lighted Christmas tree. The story goes that one evening he took an evergreen bush, which stands for immortality or the triumph of life over death, into a church and lighted it with candles representing the light of Christ.
For Christians, this is a time to celebrate the true light and what Christmas is all about, the celebration of the birth of Christ, the theme of light coming into the darkness.
In the Bible, the first chapter of Luke describes the way in which the God appointed messenger, John The Baptist, came to announce the coming of Christ. In verse eight, it says, "He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light."
It was a bright light that led the three wise men to Baby Jesus, and each year advent candles are lighted to celebrate and prepare for His birthday.
Christians aren't the only people who use lights as a symbol. In the celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Festival of Lights, Jews light a candle for eight consecutive nights marking an ancient triumph of religious freedom from the Greeks.
When the Jews revolted against the Greeks and rededicated the Temple, there was only one day's supply of oil for the menorah, which was supposed to continually burn throughout the night. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days until more could be made.
Beacons of light have kept us on course throughout centuries and how welcome they were, and how welcome they are. Torches lighted the way of ancient messengers traveling through uncharted terrain.
Beams from lighthouses guided ships through dark waters. Coal miners' lights lead them through dark underground tunnels. Rows of lights guide planes out of darkness onto airfield runways.
Author John Taylor wrote that when his parents were missionaries in India, they spent part of the year in the Himalayas, where even the foothills are higher than most of the Rocky Mountains. The route was called the Goat Path, because one needed the surefootedness of a goat to safely travel over it even in the daylight.
One night his father was returning home along a narrow path that clung to the side of the cliffs. Darkness set in and he could see nothing. He said it was like going up or down stairs while blindfolded. He had to feel for each step, terrified that one slip would send him toppling over the edge.
Suddenly, far ahead he saw a light. His mother had realized that his father must be trapped by darkness, and sent a servant with a lantern to look for him.
Seeing the light was such a relief to his father. "Nothing had changed," he said, "but I didn't have to be afraid anymore. The light was coming. I could just wait for it to reach me."
Each year, Christmas lights in all their sparkle that twinkle in the snow, encircle wreaths and decorate trees remind us of that bright star of Bethlehem that ignited the sky announcing the birth of His glorious light.
May the lights of the season reach out to you and give you a feeling of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to each and every one of you.