On the first weekend in December our family took part in the annual tradition of decorating the house for Christmas. My part of the decorating festivities is putting the lights up outside on the house, trees and shrubs. One of the most frustrating parts of this process is discovering each year that strands and nets of lights that were fully functional when put away at the end of last season are now found to only have half of their lights working. So this year I decided to take every strand that had issues and began throwing them away in the trash. By the time I had finished sorting I had placed a whole pile of broken lights in the trash and it looked like I was going to have just enough perfectly working strands and nets to cover what I needed.
So I put the lights on exactly where I needed them to go, and then went to plug it in for the great lighting ceremony. As the lights came on I saw to my chagrin, that all the net lights I had placed on my shrubs were now only half lit. How did that happen? They were working fine 15 minutes ago. Now what? I figured my only choice was to head over to the store and pick up some new ones. Walking toward the car I passed by the pile of lights that sat mounded in my trash can and was struck by a realization. I wondered if I just reversed the way I laid out the nets, if I could use the half working net lights staring up at me from the garbage to cover the lights not working on the shrubs? I grabbed 4 of the half working strands and simply covered each broken light with a working one.
Now as you drive down my street you see a seamless array of colored lights beautifully lighting up the front of my house.
Later I was struck with the thought that our lives are a lot like broken christmas lights. We were created to glorify (to light up) our God, and by doing so bring light, joy and hope to the dark and broken world around us. The problem is that our sin and brokenness has rendered us unable to do so.
However, the message of Advent reminds us that this little baby Jesus, God in flesh, had come to restore what was broken; you, me and the world around us that cries and longs for a redeemer. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus’ light, his perfect righteousness has covered our sin, just like the broken lights, bringing the redemption we have longed for and restoring us to who we were created to be. This is the gospel and what good news it is.