"Light of the world you stepped down into darkness, opened my eyes let me see. Beauty that made this heart adore you; hope of a life spent with you. Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that you're my God. You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me." Writer Chris Tomlin captures the essence of what Jesus did when He left His throne to come to earth.
Father God sent John the Baptist as a witness to testify concerning the light and tell everyone that this light would give light to every person. (John 1:7-9) Jesus himself testified to those who would listen: "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12) "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46)
At creation God made a distinction between light and darkness. The first day started in darkness and ended in light as He called forth the light. (Genesis 1:3-5) After separating day and night, on the fourth day He appointed great lights to govern each of them and to separate light from darkness. (Genesis 1:15-19) What happened during the creation of earth mirrored what happened in heaven. There was a separation in heaven when the one who was to lead the angels in worshiping the Lord tried to take His place. The Lord had to separate out the one who led this rebellion along with his followers. (Isaiah 14:12-15) Heaven was meant to be governed by light and we are taught to pray, "On earth as it is in heaven." God sent His light to earth to dispel the darkness and increase light and love.
The Church has dedicated today, 12/25, as a time to celebrate the coming of the Light to the earth. This Christmas is special as we see the alignment of the Greek and Hebrew calendars. Two celebrations of light converge and both point to the Light of the World in a unique way. Jew and Gentile will draw closer to the Father of Light simultaneously. The supernatural oil that kept the flames of the menorah burning for eight days when the Temple was rededicated by the priestly family known as the Maccabees is a picture of the Holy Spirit oil that burns in our hearts so that we display the light of Christ's love for the world.
We are sons and daughters of the Light--each of us like a lampstand meant to burn brightly. The candlesticks on the menorah are lit one by one through the center candle, positioned higher than all the other candles on the lampstand. It is called the Shamash or Servant candle. Jesus came to earth as a servant to light many "candles." Every time another candle is lit the light increases. Those of us who already have the flame of the Holy Spirit within us can brighten our light through pursuing a deeper relationship with the Light of the World. We must release the sound of praise that paves the way for the Light of the World to chase away the darkness with His powerful light. And we must fan the flame of our hearts by remembering the amazing sacrifice that the Lord made for us.
It is interesting to note that the very first public lighting of a menorah outside of Jerusalem occurred in Philadelphia at Independence Mall, near the Liberty Bell. A Jewish Rabbi from Philadelphia felt led to take a menorah outside of the synagogue in the year 1974. That menorah has been lit in the City of Brotherly Love every year since then. Do you see the significance of this? The Light of the World came with a message of love. The love of the Father of the heavenly lights came down through His Son who imparted the light of love to many. We are part of the family of light meant to reveal the love of the Kingdom of Light.
Arise and shine, dear ones, "for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you." (Isaiah 60:1) "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) And let us "give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:12)
Joan E. Mathias