Our preparations for Christmas celebrate the coming of the Word and the Light. The gospel of John tells the story of the coming of Christ in a different way than the other gospels. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1-5) "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." (John 1:9)
Jesus came from Father God so that we could be transformed "...to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." (Colossians 1:12-13) Paul describes to Titus a revealing of Christ in an interesting way. He tells us that this is what God did: "...at His appointed season He brought His Word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior." (Titus 1:3)
When Jesus was a baby his parents brought him to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord. Here they met Simeon, a righteous man who was waiting to see the "Lord's Christ" before he died. He "took the baby in his arms and praised God, saying: 'Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.'" (Luke 2:28-32)
Like Simeon, we celebrate the transformational light of Christ Jesus in this season. The Jews also celebrate the light that shown miraculously for eight days. During this year's celebration of Hanukkah I read a story about an Israeli artist named Yaron Bob who transforms weapons meant for destruction into beautiful vessels of light. Yaron lives in Sderot just outside of Gaza. Daily, the lives of nearly one million people who live in the towns near Gaza are threatened with rocket attacks. Kassam rockets are shot into Israel to terrorize and harm the residents and send them running to bomb shelters to protect their lives. Since there are not enough shelters for all of the people, Yaron decided to help fund the building of more shelters through the sale of his metal work.
Yaron collects the remains of the Kassam rockets and melts them down to produce beautiful candlesticks. The top of the candles are made into open roses--rockets into roses. His most beautiful work is what he calls his "Sderot Menorah." Yaron says, "I take the Kassam, the instrument of death and I transfer it into something of beauty." He takes a symbol of terror and turns it into a source of light. His menorahs stand as a symbol of the message that light will be victorious over darkness.
Think of the symbolism that comes from these menorahs! First of all, the prophets Isaiah and Micah tell of a day when God's people will no longer need weapons. "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3) Is this not a modern day version of what was prophesied?
Then think about how The Light of the World came to earth to transform us. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18) As we celebrate Christmas this week let us remember the sacrifice that was given for us by The Light of the World. We have been given an indescribable "gift from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created." (James 1:17-18) May Your celebration of the coming of the Christ child be filled with His light and love.
Joan E. Mathias