This year I went all-out on Christmas lights. Well, all-out for me, anyway. Back in November I took advantage of Home Depot’s special offer on new Christmas lights for customers who bring in their old lights for recycling, and bought several strings of new energy-efficient LED lights. Our house is now brightly lit up for Christmas, both outside and inside.
So what? No big deal. Lots of people buy Christmas lights.
Still, for me, this was a significant departure. I have always been a minimalist as far as outdoor Christmas lights were concerned. Conservation and environmental preservation were important values to me. We only ever had one small string of lights outdoors, and they weren’t very visible from the street.
This year, encouraged by the fact that our old lights would be responsibly recycled and that the new LED lights would be more energy-efficient as well as brighter, I broke with my minimalist past. Now we have two much longer strings of lights in the front yard, and another two along the fence in our back yard. The new lights have really made a difference. Our house looks much brighter and more attractive from the street. Even the ones in the back, as well as being nice to look at from our kitchen window, are visible from many of the neighbouring homes, and also from the street behind us.
Marion and I live in Vanier – a part of Ottawa that has been known as the home of crack houses and brothels. This is an unfortunate caricature. Although Vanier is not completely free of problems (and probably never will be on this side of Jesus’ return), it is in many ways a delightful place to live. Crack houses and brothels still exist, but their numbers are greatly reduced. More and more people are fixing up their homes, cleaning up their parks, planting flowers in the summer and flooding skating rinks in the winter, walking the neighbourhood to keep an eye on problem properties, holding community parties and in various ways choosing to love the place they call home.
All of this is wonderful, and to a great extent it is an answer to prayer. But as a believer in Jesus, I am hungry to see community transformation taken to a whole new level. Vanier has been known as a dark place, and Marion and I want it to be a place where the Light of Christ shines brightly as more and more people recognize Jesus as their Lord.
So, I decided to buy more lights.
At first I didn’t quite know why I was doing this. But gradually it dawned on my that my out-of-character decision to splurge on Christmas lights was a prophetic statement about what Marion and I want to see happen in our home and on our block. We want our home to be a lighthouse – a place where it’s easy to get connected with the goodness of God. We want our block, and the blocks around us, to be full of the glory of Christ as more and more people get to know that God is good and that they can trust Jesus to be the Lord of their lives. Lighting up our home for Christmas was a way of declaring all this – to ourselves, to the Lord, and to our neighbours – anyone with eyes to see.