I’ve been creeping out my room early each morning this week, my feet snugly ensconced in wool socks and a coffee mug cupped in my hands. I snuggle into a corner of the couch and watch the fire burn in the dark. In the quiet and dark hours, I can feel the seasons change.
Less than a week until Thanksgiving and I can already feel the warmth of the season seeping into every corner of life. Candles and cranberries are suddenly in abundance in our house, and the Christmas music wars are being waged on the front line of our bluetooth speaker. (I’m firmly on the the side of the more the better. Russ is firmly on the side of not a moment before Thanksgiving is over.)
And yet…the warm glow can so easily become an all consuming wildfire.
We have barely decked the halls and the next time we look up we are standing in the frigid wasteland of February wondering how the whole season went up in flames of frustration and stress.
What happened here?
We want to be generous so we consume what the stores offer. We want to be joyful so we create a bonfire of expectations. We are consumed with shopping lists, schedules, road trips, and programs. We want a Christmas miracle, just a glimpse of God made flesh. We burn for all the right things, and we are consumed nonetheless.
Christmas reminds me a little of Moses. Standing before that burning bush, wondering what happened here. He’d had good intentions. He burned for the right things, but there was a dead man buried in the sand and forty years of Moses’ life buried in the desert. A life consumed. What happened here?
And yet…he stands before a fire that burns without being consumed.
Maybe the metaphor was lost on him. Maybe it shouldn’t be lost on us.
What does it look like in the warmth of the season to burn for the right things without being consumed? Without consuming?
For years I found myself on the verge of quitting Christmas, burned out and frankly, a little burned up. It’s overwhelming and exhausting to try to meet the expectation’s of the season, when you look around and know in this big vast world so few people can’t even get their needs met. The dissonance rang out louder than the church bells that call us all to spend this season celebrating our Savior.
So, naturally, I though about Moses and that bush again. Slipping off his shoes in a desperate attempt to get closer to the fire. He wanted to be near, he wanted to hear what this Fire was all about.
I am here. I have always been here. I will always be here. I have come to rescue.
Moses burned for a better world and he finally saw the way out right there in the desert that had consumed half his life.
Just like Moses we are trying to make Christmas miracles happen our own way. Somewhere stuck between stockings and shoved under the tree, lost in a desert of snow I suspect we might find a little just a little kindling for a fire that burns but doesn’t consume.
That fire that commissioned Moses burns in You. You are the Christmas miracle. You are the gospel made flesh. Because, on this side of the Red Sea, we don’t need a burning bush, we are the burning bush. All God asked of Moses? Love me. Love my people.
All God is asking of us? Love me. Love my people.
If there is a better time to spread the warmth of a fire that burns but doesn’t consume than Christmas time, I can’t possibly think of one. This month can hold so much silent suffering, so much lack and lonely and yet so much excess and so many expectations. Is it possible we could be the fire that lights the way free?
A few years ago with a wagon, some hand delivered invitations, and an ill advised homemade advent wreath with dried out cedar glued to it, The Christmas Light Project was born.
I couldn’t warm the world with the Light of Jesus, but I thought maybe I could light a couple of candles on my block and the world might just be a little brighter of a place. So I grabbed a calendar and committed a weeknight. Sure, we had to shrink our shopping time, we had to cut back on big group events, we had to stay put just that one night a week.
But what is it we really burn for?
Is it piles of gifts, platters of gourmet food, and another event? Or do we burn for more freedom? Do we burn for more of the Light in this world?
The vision for The Christmas Light Project couldn’t be any easier.
One day of the week.
Three weeks of the year.
Invite your actual neighbors over, call it potluck, and throw the makings of some chili in a crockpot. Sit around a table and get to know your people. Then? Light a candle. Just a little advent candle. Celebrate the Light and while your at it you might just light the way to a little freedom.
I always imagine it mapped out. One street at a time, one block at a time, one neighbor hood at a time, one city at at time spreading a little more Light of the World this Christmas by offering the warmth of loving our neighbors and lighting a candle.
I’m more and more convinced that the only way we can change the world is to burn brightly right where we are in a broken and consumed world.
I’d love to have you join us for this year’s Christmas Light Project. Sign up below and on Friday this week (Safely after Thanksgiving!) you will get a Project Pack, that includes a prayer page, host guide, and FAQ’s. After that I’ll send you a weekly Light Guide devotional and some quick, fun recipes for the season!