The Christmas Eve Disco Ball
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
Last Thursday, I used the illustration of a lighthouse with its many prisms to help explain how you and I can be light in the world. We transmit the self-generating light of Jesus, much as prisms capture the brilliance of a bulb in a lighthouse, projecting its glow far out into the world.
Today, I want to use an additional illustration to help us see that we are the light of the world, not alone, but along with our fellow believers. I'd like you to consider the metaphor of the Christmas Eve Disco Ball.
During my sixteen-year tenure as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I preached at over fifty Christmas Eve services. The first two services of the evening were designed for families with young children. For those services, I tried to find compelling illustrations or demonstrations that would engage everyone in the sanctuary, even the little ones, and help them grasp the wonder of Christmas.
One year, my own children joined me. Nathan read the Scripture, which happened to be Ephesians 5:8: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." Then, he and my daughter Kara assisted me as I shone a brilliant spotlight on a large, vibrantly-wrapped Christmas present in the center of the stage. I talked about how Jesus was the light of the world. Even as the spotlight made the present look especially bright and colorful, so Jesus shines into the world, revealing the true beauty and wonder of life.
"But," I said, "there is more here, a big surprise. Jesus doesn't just shine on us. He also wants us to reflect his light into the world. He shines in the world through us." At this moment, my kids lifted up the wrapped part of the large present, exposing a mirror-covered disco ball that was spinning as if by magic. (In fact, it was battery powered.) The light from the spotlight reflected off the hundreds of small mirrors, filling the whole sanctuary with dazzling, swirling spots of light. I heard gasps of wonder as worshipers young and old were inspired by the spectacle before them.
This was, I must confess, one of my all-time favorite moments of Christmas Eve worship. It's not just that people were impressed by the illustration. I felt as if they were really getting the underlying point. Jesus is the true light. We are the light insofar as we reflect him into the world. But, and this is key, we are not individual mirrors, but rather partners in a heavenly disco ball. One of those little mirrors all by itself would be relatively unimpressive. The collection of mirrors was stunning.
When Ephesians 5:8 says, "now you are light in the Lord," it is not speaking to us just as individuals, but also as members of Christ's body. Individually and together, we are light in the Lord. Individually and together, we are to live as children of light. Individually and together, we will shine the light of Christ throughout the darkness of the world. You are a mirror and so am I. We will fulfill our reflective calling only when we join together in common work and witness.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of times or places when the light of Christ has reflected from you into the world? Can you think of times or places when you have been part of a "Christmas Eve Disco Ball" kind of shared reflection? How might you join with your fellow "mirrors" to shine the light of Christ into the world: at work, in your community, in your social networks, online, at church, in your family, and so forth?
PRAYER: O Lord, you are the true light of the world. You are "my light and my salvation" (Ps. 27:1). You have shined upon me with your glory and truth, illumining and transforming me. How I praise you!
You have called me to be light as well, and not by myself, but as a member of your body. Together, we are to be like that brilliant disco ball, reflecting your light into the darkness of this world. Help me, Lord, help us to be faithful mirrors. May you shine through me and through us today, so that the world might see your glory and your truth. Amen.
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