Friday, December 20, 2013

The Flicker of Christmas

Christmas is a flicker of hope as we trudge our way in a sin-darkened world.

The person cold, hungry, and lost in the wilderness on a dark night picks up his head at a glimmer of a far off light. He stares at that distant spot lest he lose track of where the brief flash came from. When it reappears, he hastens his step and lifts his hopes. The closer he comes, the more he focuses his eyes in the direction of the light.

He had feared he would have to spend the night in this dangerous place. He worried that he would never find his way out. He wondered if this is where his life would end.

But that flicker of light renewed his hope. Not just a chance that this would turn out all right, but the absolute certainty that everything would be all right! For you see, he had earlier been given a map with instructions. According to the map—and others had confirmed it—a house was waiting on the edge of the wilderness. Its windows were well lit, and the front door would be open. Inside would be food, drink, and friends. There, the once lost would be ever safe.

What we celebrate as Christmas is only a flicker of light from a far away place. It passes by quickly, and soon is again out of sight. Often the cares and fears and the “being busy” that are all around us blank it out. It’s as if we were trying to see a flashlight beam while looking through the tall reeds of a marsh. We think, “Perhaps the next time it comes around we will see it more clearly. Maybe it will come closer. Maybe we can make it out of this swamp!” We can only hope. But that hope is a solid one.

Perhaps this Christmas we can push away the obstacles and get a clear view. Maybe this Christmas we can pause long enough to stare at the wonder of the light, and catch hold of some of the music that drifts in on the wind. Just maybe we might think we see the shadows of some who dwell in the house of peace and joy. We already know the names of many of them. Some we have read about in a Book. Others, we have lived with, and loved, and then lost to the grave.

Had we come to this spot worried and fearful? Had we been tired and discouraged? Had we stuffed our rucksack with regret, and now wonder if there is any hope at all for peace and joy?

Have we not seen that flicker of light from on high? Have we not heard the song of the angels? Have our eyes of faith not peered in through the barn window to see the Christ-child?

And what was stacked behind the Bethlehem scene? Did we not see a cross beyond the manger? Did we not see an open grave? Did we not see the heavens open to receive its King?

Did we not hear the words: “I go to prepare a place for you”?

That’s the house of the lighted windows and open door! That’s heaven. That’s home.

Christmas is the flicker of light that lets us know what’s waiting. And each time Christmas comes around, heaven comes closer.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military

Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

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Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.