A few years ago, we received an early Christmas gift—a musical snowman with a carrot nose and a trumpet snug in his hands. It’s a decorative piece that connects to our Christmas tree. With a flip of a switch, the trumpet rises to play a fanfare of music and our tree lights dance to the beat.

The kids take turns switching the snowman on and off. Rather than looking at the lights, I watch my children. Reflected in their eyes I see the sparkle of lights, amazement and joy.

As soon as they hear the music and see the first flicker of light, they begin dancing and waving their arms as if they’re conducting. And in a way, they are conductors—not of the music but of light. They are the ones who bring hope, joy and love into the room. Lighting our tree is one way they can practice bringing light into the world. It’s a way to give thanks to Jesus, our light in the darkness.

Grief and uncertainty from this pandemic may weigh heavily. Yet my children show me Christmas is still coming, Jesus will still be born and the light of the world will not be extinguished.

In March, I didn’t imagine we’d be grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic at Christmastime. Depending on where you live, your Christmas may or may not look the same as in years past. On top of the usual challenges and joys of the season, grief and uncertainty from this pandemic may weigh heavily. Yet, I keep watching my children, who show me Christmas is still coming, Jesus will still be born and the light of the world will not be extinguished.

My children may only be 5 and 3, but they gleam brightly, doing their part to combat the darkness. Jesus came into the world as a small baby, turning it upside down. Light, love, joy and hope can do that too.

This Advent and Christmas, let’s remember the light shining in the darkness, a light that changes the world—one song, one tree, one baby at a time.

Practices

Bundle up and drive or walk through your neighborhood. Look at the lights and decorations and offer a prayer for each home: God, keep your light shining for us all. Amen.

Send cards to people who may feel especially lonely this season. Share the message that Jesus’ light shines for them. Use a video message service to sing Christmas carols for others.

Write the following verse and say it together throughout Advent. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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