We took down our Christmas tree today.
Already? You ask.
Yes. That tree was dead.
Dead, dead, DEAD.
That fire hazard had to go.
As I started removing the ornaments, I kept looking back toward the dim, lifeless tree. I decided that even if I was taking it down, I wanted the lights shining bright until the very last moment.
There are few things I find more dreary than an unlit Christmas tree. I just can't help myself - once the tree is up for the season, the minute I come downstairs in the morning I turn the tree lights on and only turn them off to leave the house or go to bed.
In particularly dark years, the warm glow of Christmas lights has helped chase away sadness.
I have tried leaving the lights off when I am not purposefully enjoying them so as not to waste electricity. It never works. Each time I glance at the tree and see the dark, lifeless branches, I, too, feel barren.
One simple switch and the room is filled with warmth and light.
It reminds me of the light passed on by those whose faith and love have brightened the dark corners of my life.
Of those for whom living out God's purpose means shining their light into the dark corners. Those who help me discover the joy and light in my life.
For a life lived fully, in communion with the Father, draws us to the light. To His light in others. It draws His light out of us. And without it, we are merely dark, barren branches, all decorated and pretty but slowly dying.
So that we must not only let our light shine in joy and celebration, but also in our suffering and up until our final breath.
Because when we hide our light we not only live in darkness, we deny those we encounter the opportunity to bask in the warmth of God's love.
"Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."