There’s a stew of emotions simmering in many of us as we launch the Christmas season of 2020. Thanksgiving already shaped up to be unique for most folks. We aren’t certain what Christmas will look like without some of the normal routines and traditions we’ve known in past years. All the societal uncertainties we are all currently facing, jumble our heads and hearts. Added to that are individualized losses and sorrows we’ve each experienced this last 12 months. Altogether, the cumulative effect is turning some folks into Grinches.
I’ve felt a bit green and sour a few times myself these last few weeks. This Christmas will be the first one with both of my parents in heaven. Everyday I am comforted with images of them reunited with long lost family, especially their parents. Simultaneously, I feel cheated of the love, humor, and depth they brought to me and my family. Last Christmas I was bowling with my Dad. Now, I can’t even bear to watch the videos of that day. The wound of that loss is still too fresh.
Recently, a guest pastor at our church challenged us to shift our thinking and talking away from everything we’ve all lost, to everything we still have. Conviction fell on me that day. I realized my thoughts have been preoccupied too much lately, with the past, and all the friends and family taken from me in the last few years.
The next morning, I landed in Ephesians 5 and God began to shift my focus towards some of the profound heavenly gifts which he has showered on his children. Gifts he wants us to share with a dark world. A world who may not see their loved ones again as I will. A world who is crushed under the heavy loads and burdens that 2020 created. I became stuck on verses 8 and 9.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) …”
The foundational gift is light itself, light that comes from The Light of the World. From that light flow goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Do you think the world around you needs light?
Know anyone that needs a healthy does of your goodness and kindness?
What if the current level of lawlessness in our society smacked into a wall of people flowing with righteousness, right thinking, speaking, and behaving?
How about a hefty dollop of Truth for so many trying to find hope in false gods and flaky belief systems?
My gift to you this Christmas season is a devotional I created based on these two verses. Titled, “Four Gifts,” each day you will be challenged to look at one of the gifts from the angle of different scriptures. At the beginning of each week, I will post Day One of that week’s writings in my blog post. For the rest of the devotional, you will need to go to my website, sharonstults.com or pastorsfeistywife.com and under “Bible Studies and Devotionals,” you will find a downloadable file, free for you to use and share.
The devotionals are written in simple language so that they may be used by families and individuals. My hope is that you can also shift your attention from losses to what you still have to share with others who need it so much. God bless you richly in this unique Christmas season.
Here is Day One from the devotional:
Week One-Five Days of Light
Verses: “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow,” James 1:17 NLT.
“And Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘I am the light of the world,’” John 8:12 NLT.
To Think About
Have you ever noticed how much shadows move during the day? Like when you are under a beach umbrella or a tree? As hours tick by, you need to move, if you want to stay in shade.
James uses the idea of shadows to help us understand God.
First, he says that everything good and perfect in our world is a gift from God. Things like all the lights of heaven, the sun, moon, and stars.
After he gets us thinking about those lights, he tells us that God doesn’t cast a shadow that moves, like the sun does. Why does he say that?
I think he wants us to remember there are lights and then there is THE Light. In ancient times, people worshipped the sun, like it was a god. In this verse, James tells us that the sun, as big and powerful as it is, is only a light created by God, who is THE Light of the world.
People today still look for light, but they don’t look in the right places. They think that jobs, friends, houses, expensive toys, and other things will bring brightness to life. They do, for a while and then they will grow dim, like the sun does when it sets. They move and change because they are only created things. Only God, The Light, never fades and never shifts.
Prayer: God, forgive me for sometimes looking for light in wrong places. Thank you for giving me the gift of Jesus, the Light of the World that does not change or move.
Just for fun: As a reminder that we are lights in a dark world, adults and children might enjoy making these “stained glass” Christmas ornaments.