My favorite scene from the 1965 Charlie Brown classic Christmas Special is of Linus on stage recounting from Luke’s gospel the true Christmas story. The epic words, now forgotten by the vast majority, still ring out as truth to the humble of heart, “… and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not!”
Wow, the glory of the Lord and an admonition to not fear in the same breathe! It is hard to imagine with so much gone wrong in our fearful world that the glory of the Lord is on humanity. Yet the Good News of a true light among us, Jesus, remains. God deliberately shone His light and humanity came face to face with glory. And all those beings we were taught to fear in the darkness, those creatures with whom we fought and who fought with us, came face to face with God’s light. And it taught us not to be afraid.
The fear effect of darkness is a belief that something, someone, maybe everyone is dangerous. What God’s glory was meant to do was to show us that those creatures we rejected as bad were people like us. Light does that. It has forced us to see them, and ourselves not merely as walking trees or enemies hiding in the darkness, but as living under a great light. The incarnation has re-humanised us all. And in this great re-humanisation we are now allowed to enjoy and love the beauty that is revealed in Christ and in others.
We have a friend who is homeless. He was given a place to sleep in the warmth, yet recently he chose to go back and live on the street. He told us about the man who finished his shift very early in the morning and brought hot coffee and fresh bread to the homeless group of which he is a member. They never see him. He does it before they all wake up. And we might add that he does not leave a pamphlet from the church. But his good works are visible and precious, and come from a place of God’s glory in his heart we are sure!
Paul has an inspired way of making God’s truth so accessible and once wrote: Do everything you need to do without grumbling or arguing, so that you can be children of God, blameless, sincere and healthy, living in a torn and sick world, and shining there as lights in one Dark place. For you have in your hands the very word of life. (Philippians 2: 14,15)
When a light shines in a dark place it is there for all to see. It doesn’t even have to say much! Not only this Christmas, but daily we get to manifest the presence of this risen glory of God upon us to all those taking care of their business. It may be in Thailand where people still like to bow before the images and give them drinks and food. It may be in a chic neighborhood in Paris where Gucci bags are a common sight. It may be in the cubicle next to you in the office or your neighbour across the fence. We get to shine. What a wonderful job description. We shine the light of another and say, “No need to fear!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each one of you!