It was pitch black darkness in semi desert, undulating terrain lightly sprinkled with scrub and rocks. I was on night manoeuvres during my forced conscription to the army in 1971. We’d been at it all day and half the night and I’d never been so tired in my life.

After a short break, during which I dozed off as soon as I sat down, we were jolted back to life, “Look over there!” More than a mile away a small light flared followed by a pin-prick glow. “That’s a cigarette clearly visible, providing a target from a long way off for anyone to locate and shoot. Be careful at night with light, you’ll get yourself killed by the enemy real quick.”

“Light in the darkness” is the central theme of Christmas. The birth of Jesus was announced with starlight in the heavens, angels appeared ablaze with light to shepherds in the field. Jesus was described as ‘the light of the world’. The darkness cannot overcome the light, John wrote….

Later Jesus would exhort his disciples to do the exact opposite of what I’d been instructed to do in army training. “Let your light shine… be visible, make your presence known to the enemy. More importantly, let the light of heaven shine through you into the world. Be light in the darkness inviting people home; you are light-bearers.”

The darkness of the world is where many of our family and friends live. There are some dusky and dim areas in all of our lives still awaiting the welcoming light of life in Jesus. Darkness is attached to our limitations – where our reliance rests upon our understanding, our perception of the present and future, and our abilities to cope.

Darkness falls when the focus is on ourselves, shackled to our past, and confused in our present. It tends to isolate us from others. When hope is out of sight and company is scarce, shame and fear are quick to envelop us. Hiding in darkness makes us invisible, it’s where secrets grow like mold, the imagination runs wild, and loneliness chatters in our ears about doubt, despair, getting what we deserve, and death.

That’s why the birth of Jesus was announced in blazing light with shouts of bold joy…. “Good news to all, peace on earth, goodwill extended to everyone, a Saviour is born to carry the darkness of death upon His shoulders……”

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is LIGHT!” (Matthew 11:28-30)

What does ‘being’ a shining light mean in a world of self-interest, greed, and cynicism? Here are a few thoughts – Light Up:

L     Love that is unconditional, expressed in actions, servants looking          out for the needs of others, sacrificial, and delighted to be generous.

I      Identity assured as sons and daughters of a good God. Living from victory, acceptance under the protection of a God who cares and provides.

G     God is the centre of all life and the One who gives us light. He is love/life/light itself and in the revelation of Jesus our lives find meaning, purpose and direction.

H     Hope is our passion because God is able to do more than we can ask or
imagine. Surely the God who resurrects what is dead can lead, protect, and
open up the way ahead for each of us – and all of us – if we choose to follow Him?

T      Trust is the assurance we have that God is faithful. That He is most
trustworthy and will keep the promises He has made, which we take hold of in faith; particularly when we don’t yet see their fulfillment.

U      Uniting us with others is one of the primary hallmarks of the light Jesus shines.He draws people together into community where love, identity, and hope can be experienced in relationship, flowing from the heart of God (the Father of Light. “It is not good for you to be alone,” God told Adam in the Garden of Eden. He’s never changed his mind. Light releases us from self sufficiency: the hallmark and lie of blindness and darkness.

P      Passion is what keep the light burning bright. Living in the presence of God’s Spirit within all who name Jesus as Lord. He burns with passion in us, releasing everything we require to be lighthouses of hope in a dark world. We know what we carry within. We are humbled by God’s grace that called us home by the light of Jesus when we were lost in darkness. Now we are warmed and secure, ever learning; experiencing the privilege and joy of lighting the way for others to join us in our supernatural home, heaven on earth, the kingdom come.