December 15, 2023

Life-Giving Light

Written by Wisdom Hunters

Just as we need light to see in the dark, we need the light of Christ to find our way on the journey home to God.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – December 15, 2023

Guest Writer Valerie Schultz

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

The owners of my favorite spot for breakfast put up their Christmas decorations in all their electric glory two days after Halloween. When I was younger and more devout — or more rigid — in the practice of my religion, this early and ostentatious display would have bothered me. I would have protested that the gaudy commercialization of Christmas obscured the true spiritual meaning of Christ’s birth. Now however, older, wiser, more lenient, more forgiving, I confess I love seeing those lights. Give me all the Christmas I can hold, I say. Passing by the brightly shining points of color against the darkness of night fills me with joy.

And according to my favorite cafe owners, there is scientific reason for that. They cheerfully cite a University of Michigan study that concludes that seeing holiday lights early in the season makes people feel happier and more optimistic. The researchers claim that the sight of Christmas lights triggers the release of endorphins, the hormones our brains produce to help us cope with pain or stress. Early Christmas endorphins can elevate our mood and benefit our overall mental health…. Consider me triggered. In a good way.

Psychologists have known for decades that light therapy is an effective treatment for depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), especially for folks who live in areas of prolonged winter darkness. The circadian clock in our brains can be adversely affected by the seasonal drop in daily light. When daylight is a precious commodity, gloom can take over with every early sunset. Special therapy lamps can help lift the spirits of those of us who suffer in the dark. Just as a walk on a sunny day can boost our mood, a daily session of light therapy can be just what the doctor ordered to treat depressive symptoms.

So maybe Christmas lights are a special kind of light therapy. I imagine the sweet nostalgia for the holidays of my childhood draws my adult heart to appreciate the early lighting up of the world in anticipation of Christmas. If we are people of Christian faith, we know that the shining bulbs on our rooftops and our trees are meant to be a symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ as the light of the world. And maybe, if the dark of winter puts our faith lives into a kind of spiritual hibernation, the lights of Christmas can remind us of the reason we have faith at all: That God sent his only son to dwell among us for our well-being and our salvation. The tidings of comfort and joy that come forth from God every Christmas season can nudge the darkness from our souls and rekindle the holy fire of our faith. Just as we need light to see in the dark, we need the light of Christ to find our way on the journey home to God.

Christmas lights bring out the joy and kindness and generosity in people, qualities that are especially welcome in our daily experiences of stress and strife, of division and despair. Christmas prompts us to realize that we have the power to create a future that is less dark. Christ’s light encourages us to practice the love and compassion and care that Jesus models for us and that we are called to bring to others all year long. Those lights you see twinkling on the houses when you’re driving through your neighborhood after dark or blazing on your favorite business? They are a sign of hope for our weary world. They bind us in the promise that love is stronger than hate if only we keep ourselves connected to the energy and light of Christmas all year long.

“In him [Jesus Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).


Heavenly Father, shine your light of love through Jesus living in and through me by Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Consider experiencing a beautiful Christmas light display with your family and reflect on and discuss how light brings you life by pointing to the light and life of Christ.

Related Reading

Isaiah 60:1; Psalm 18:28; 1 John 1:5; Revelation 21:23

Worship Resource

We The Kingdom: Light of the World


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