The Long Night And Meaning Of The Lights On The Tree

Recently I made the comment that I was more excited about the 21st of December than I was for the 24th or 25th. The 21st of December is the longest night of year. And, when the dawn breaks on the 22nd the light returns to planet Earth. Most people are aware of the winter solstice and how the early church decided that it was just perfect for celebrating Jesus’s birthday.

Saint John 1:4-5

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Simply put, the lights on a Christmas tree represent Jesus Christ as the light of the world.

The Appalachian Winter is one where we can have snow or rain or both for Christmas but the darkness of December is a constant. The steep incline of our hills and low angle of the sun makes the normally long night even longer. The darkness like sin seems to suffocate you. It brings a coldness that seeps into very core of your being. But just when you think it’s going to be dark forever the light breaks over a distant ridge and the cold night begins to retreat. The light returns and with it comes new life.

As I’ve studied the deeper meanings behind our Christmas decorations I’ve come to understand that the Christmas Tree itself is a microcosm of the Jesus experience. We can decorate the tree with all kinds of trinkets and bobbles and assign different meanings to them and make it a beautiful and artistic expression of our Christian faith but it’s when the lights are turned on that it comes to life and brings us joy.

So, that’s the meaning behind the Christmas lights. It’s the expression of new life coming into world and the exit of the long dark night.

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Light And Shadow

Tonight’s image is the little foot bridge at Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge West Virginia .

How do I start this conversation? What clever words can I use to open eyes and hearts? Art is supposed to imitate life. Right? I often get a lot of positive feedback on the light in my photos and I’m always humbled by it. But the truth is that without the shadows you wouldn’t notice the light. Life is a composition consisting of ups (the light) and downs (the shadows). Art gives us the advantage of observing light and shadow from an outside perspective. But, with life we are inside the composition. During the incidents of shadow we don’t really get to observe the light. It exists just outside our perspective. But it is there and as we move on through the composition we will encounter the light as well. We will move through light and shadow in different patterns throughout our lives. It the areas of shadow that gives us an appreciation for the light and it’s the downs of life that makes the up times so special.

Just a few thoughts to keep in mind during dark days. Your life is your own composition. During the times when shadow seems to dominate, it helps me to get out and go find the light.

A Moment Of Grace

I’ve been working on a side project that has me a little down. I’m not ready to reveal the nature of the project. Only that its been hard on me emotionally. But I do think it will worth it. When dark times come just have faith that God is still operating. His grace is shining down on your life even if you don’t really know it. The storm will break. The clouds will part eventually. And, light will return to the world.

The Summerville Lighthouse

As I sat down to write to write tonight’s post the wind is howling on the ridge above my home. I can hear the wind chimes ring loudly in the front porch. There’s a storm on the way. That’s the reason why I chose the picture of our local lighthouse. Lighthouses are the iconic representation of hope in the storm. I can’t look at a lighthouse without having a sense of peace and security. (That’s why I incorporated a lighthouse in my business logo.) Finding peace during a storm one of life’s necessities. It helps to have a lighthouse to provide a fixed point to focus on. Metaphorically speaking, we know that there will multiple storms in our lives. We will need that beacon of hope to focus on and guide us through the fog and blinding rain. For me, Christ is my lighthouse. That doesn’t mean that there’s never a storm. But it does mean that I have a fixed point to focus on and find that peace again.

Let The Light In

Sometimes when I’m talking to friends about things like fear of the unknown or just fear and doubt in general I’ll pose a riddle.

“I was afraid of the dark, but then I became the darkness “.

For the first time ever I’m going to publicly give you the answer.

When you are in a dark place there is fear and anxiety. You can’t perceive the world around you. What’s out there could be bad. It might even be very bad. You’re fear comes from your mind filling in the unknown with projections of worse case scenarios. The flight or fight response kicks in. Adrenaline surges through your blood and your ready for the unknown.

But why become the darkness? It sounds scary. Doesn’t that make you evil? No, not at all. Because a person who is in darkness casts no shadow! In order to become darkness one must become a shadow. In order to become a shadow one must leave the darkness and move into the light. If a person who is in the light is casting light, the the light is being reflected instead of absorbed. The truth will set you free but only if you drink it in make it a part of you.

The Light shines for everyone but not everyone steps out of darkness to let the light in.