Monday, January 26, 2015

Worn Out Christmas

You know how it is.  One month past Christmas and some still have their lights up.  It's like they are clinging to the magic, hoping these lights will dispel the doldrums and dirge of January.  But somehow the same lights that brought comfort and joy at Christmas seem old, worn out, and mocking in January.  And dare I say it?  Even irresponsible!

It was weeks ago that I undecorated my tree.  But its branches were still so green, that I could not bring myself to dispose of it just yet.  Instead, I kept its lights intact and dragged it to my front porch where, for a few weeks, it's been friends with my neighbor's tree across the street.  Their quiet limbs whisper secrets back and forth, hoping passers by will notice their last ditch effort to push back the dark. 

However, this weekend, forty five minutes before a mob of middle school girls and their parents were to arrive at my house, I was fighting with a tree.  Motivated by what they would think, I had to get it off my front porch.  The tree at last succumbed, ready for the fire.

In December people make a conscious effort toward peace and good will to all.  I don't know if New Year's resolutions make us grumpy, but somehow the warm fuzzy feeling in the air turns sour.  When the lights come down, so does the nice.  Between verbal backbiting and public murmuring, it would seem there had been no Christmas at all. 

Spring is coming, when all things are made new, but in the meantime, can we just shine these little lights a bit longer?  Can we think about what we are saying, doing, or promoting and how it might do more damage than good?  So what if it is my pet-peeve or my agenda.  If it hurts another, is it really worth it?  Don't we have anything better to do?

The coward spouts their case on the public scene, a place where they are accountable to no one and where they can gain the support of others on the broad road, worn out Christmas lights.  Many hop on this band wagon, but it takes all the power of Christ in us to remain silent.  We would rather revel in the satisfaction of verbally 'punching it to them', a selfish delight.  

But the courageous, the truly brave, come with their complaints on the private spectrum, maintaining the accused dignity and respect, giving the accused an opportunity to present their perspective and to clear up any misunderstandings.  This is the narrow road which leads to life, peace, and restoration . . . real change, but few choose it.

How can there be fellowship between light and darkness?  There is a chasm between the two, for when God created the light he "separated the light from the darkness." (Gen. 1:4)  They cannot coexist.  And "God saw that the light was good".  Good!  And yet, my nature is drawn to the darkness because in reality my sin loves it, deceiving myself into believing dark is good.  But God knows I am most happy in the light.  Only in His light will I find peace and good will to all.

Though most of my Christmas decor comes down shortly after the holidays, I purposefully leave a few lights until Valentine's Day.  Their warm glow encourages me through the dark winter, a reminder of the beauty of light, The Light.  Why did Jesus go through all that trouble to lay down His life?  Why did He willingly humble Himself so painfully?   Was it for separation?  No, God is not like that.  It was for restoration:  fellowship with our Heavenly Father and unity among brothers and sisters.   

My tree might be gone, but I do not part with Light, for He continues to warm my soul, guard my heart, and guide my steps. 

Lord Jesus,"Let no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  (Eph. 4:29) And do not let me grieve the Spirit of God who so graciously dwells within me.