Lay bow to string and lip to horn
And make our joy ring: a child is born.
Put pen to sheet and stick to drum
And make our joy speak: the Christ has come.
Lift lights to eaves and voice in song
Till each believes that the Son has dawned.
As I grew up, my family never had a Christmas tree and never decorated the house beyond a few candles arranged with sprigs of white pine or blue spruce from our yard.
But one year my oldest brother made a large star outlined with lights and mounted it on our front porch latticework. We had twinges of conscience: was it too gaudy? Was it a waste to use electricity to burn lights for no practical use? Yet it seemed a biblical thing to do, a witness and reminder of the star God had placed over Bethlehem to point to the Christ-child. Several years later my brother made an even larger star and placed it atop our farm’s tallest silo, aiming it toward the nearby town and highway.
The other year Karen bought a string of multicolored lights and we taped them around our front picture window. This year we added some lighted garlands to wrap the porch pillars and a long string of lights to hang under our porch eaves, and spent the better part of a Saturday morning putting them up.
It’s only a small porch. But is the lighting too expensive, too bright, too much?
No! This month’s issue of Christianity Today has several church leaders suggesting ways to root our celebration of Christ’s birth more deeply in our lives. Patricia Raybon says: Turn on Christmas lights. Plug in the bulbs and “light the night sky with electrified elation.” Tell the whole world, Look at our house. Look at our bright, happy season. Look at our Christ.
We have a true reason to light up the night. I like to believe that, on our front porch this month, our joy and our shouts of faith are getting embodied in some simple strings of Christmas lights.