by Christine Sine
Are you craving Christmas light already this year? You are not alone. I have bought some new strings of lights to illuminate the backyard and am planning an Advent garden with lots of light too. We all need plenty of light this year and we need it early – not just physical light, but spiritual light, too.
As I reflected on how I could bring more light to this season, I was reminded of a paper light box I was given last year by some dear friends who had just visited Palestine. The light was crafted by a disabled Palestinian man in Bethlehem who was trying to support his large family on a very meager income. I lit it each morning as a reminder to pray for those who are marginalized and abandoned in our world.
I pulled it out of my box of Christmas ornaments this morning, wondering as I did so what has happened to that man and so many marginalized people like him who have been further marginalized by the pandemic and the economic hardships it has created. I desperately need this light and others like it to keep reminding me of how Jesus usually appeared to those at the margins, to the disabled, the abused and the excluded. Even at his birth, it is the disabled, the despised, the abandoned and the excluded who are most prominent around the manger. It is in them that the Christ light seems to shine most brightly.
We all want the light of Christ to grow stronger in our lives as we move towards Christmas. That is part of the reason that we chose the title Lean Towards the Light this Advent & Christmas for our Advent devotional and seasonal theme this year. However if you are like me you probably need more than a daily devotional to remind you. You need lots of light around you, and you need to respond to Lilly Lewin’s question from Friday: Where have you seen the light? not just in thought, but in deed.
It may seem a little early for this, but I decided to reflect on this question while making my own cut out paper light like I did last year. Once again, I chose a star as my pattern – being very aware that the light of Christ shines in us and draws all the disabled, the abandoned, the excluded and despised to himself in special ways at this season. So I watched the video tutorial below and made a star. I didn’t have the right kind of paper or backing so I had to improvise a bit – backing my star with tissue paper and then taping it to a large jar that once had tulips growing in it. It wasn’t perfect but it was a wonderful focus for my reflections and a great reminder of the kind of God that we follow.
Watch the tutorial and while you are making your star, reflect on the question: How can I make the light of Christ shine more brightly as I get ready for the Christmas season? When you are finished, sit in silence for a couple of moments allowing God to speak clearly to you. Write down what comes to mind. Take particular note of how God prompts you to reach out to the marginalized in your community.
Now that you have created your star, find a jar or a vase that you can use for your lantern. You will also need a piece of tissue paper and some glue so that you can paste your star to the tissue paper.
Paste your star to the paper and tape it or glue it around the vase or jar. I actually used a paper clip at the top as I didn’t want something that would be difficult to remove afterwards. Find an electric candle to place inside it and light it. Prayerfully consider what other ways God might be prompting you to shine the light of Christ into our world as the birth of Christ approaches.
My lantern sits in my office/sacred space next to one of my orchids and I plan to light it each morning as a reminder of the approaching birth of Jesus our bright and morning star and of his call to shine God’s light into this broken world.
NOTE: This exercise is adapted from one of the activity in the final module of our Advent Retreat Lean Towards The Light