Biblical writers were often confronted with the task of expressing the inexpressible; of explaining the unexplainable. When the truth they wanted to express was too big for words, they found dramatic illustrations that conveyed the heart of the message. So it is with the Christmas Story in John’s Gospel…This is a story too big to be told. How do you express the birth of Jesus Christ into the world? How do you do justice to his birth? How do you capture its impact? How do you communicate all that it means?
Mere words are not enough, so John offers us brilliant poetic analogy. It is light coming into a world of darkness! That is a dramatic image…It was dark and then light came in; everything was dark and light was turned on. God’s light came into our world. “The light shines in the darkness,” John says, “and the darkness has not overcome it.”
That really is what Christmas is about, isn’t it? It is why we call it a season of lights. Everywhere you look, from houses, to businesses, to the Rhema Campus, Christmas lights are shining in the darkness. All these lights symbolize the same thing: the Light of God coming to a dark world in the birth of a baby to bring truth, hope, love, and peace to a needy, broken world. Tonight I want to share a story with you from James Moore’s book, “Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam.”[i]
It is a true story about a woman named Kate Walker. Kate was living in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, when she first met Jacob Walker. He was the keeper of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse.
They fell in love, and he took her there as his bride. She was so happy there at Sandy Hook because she and Jacob were in love and the lighthouse was on land. In addition to helping him with the lighthouse, she also kept a garden and raised vegetables and flowers. It was a wonderful life.
But then, her husband was transferred to Robbins Reef, a lighthouse in the ocean, surrounded by water. At first, she refused to unpack her trunks and boxes because she was upset by the isolation. But over time, little by little she unpacked, arranged, decorated, and settled in. She loved Jacob dearly, and each day she helped him with the lighthouse duties to the point that she became as proficient at the job as he was. They both knew full well how the ships at sea depended on them. In their work, they were saving lives daily by warning the ships of danger and guiding them to a safe harbor.
One day, Jacob caught a cold while tending the light. His cold turned into pneumonia. Eventually, he became so ill that it was necessary to take him to the hospital where he could receive better care. There was no one else to tend the light. He urged Kate to stay there at the lighthouse and continue his work. She wanted to go with him to the hospital, but he insisted that she stay behind to mind the light. Reluctantly, she agreed. His last words to her were, “Mind the light, Kate.”
A few nights later, while Kate tended the light, she saw a boat coming. Somehow she knew something was wrong. She could feel it in the air, and she braced herself for the news that reached her from the darkness: Her husband was dead. After the funeral, Kate stayed on at the lighthouse.
She wrote: “Every morning when the sun comes up, I stand at the porthole and look towards his grave. Sometimes the hills are brown, sometimes, they are green, and sometimes they are white with snow. But always they bring a message from him, something I heard him say more often than anything else. Just three words: ‘Mind the light!’”
Kate’s story is a Christmas parable for us, isn’t it? Whenever we look toward the manger in Bethlehem, a strong message comes to us. From the manger of Bethlehem to the empty tomb of Jerusalem come three powerful words: “Mind the light!” That is, keep the light of Christ glowing brightly in this world of darkness. Keep bright and clear and visible what Jesus stood for and what he lived for. Mind the Light! Keep the Light of Christ burning every day. We find Bethlehem in the midst of bedlam when we find God’s light in Jesus Christ. Our job as Christians is to be reflectors of the Light of Christ and to bring some measure of His light and life into the dark corners of this world. As we celebrate Christmas this year, my prayer is that each one of us will find Bethlehem and “Mind the Light”:
- The Light of Peace
- The Light of Hope
- The Light of Love
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[i] Moore, James W., Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam”, © 2013 Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press. Page 134ff