On Saturday we held our 6th annual Light up the Night event. This is a day when businesses, churches, and individuals come together to decorate homes on 5th avenue for Christmas. This is my absolute favorite event of the year! When we first moved to North Highland 11 years ago, it was right around Halloween. What I noticed was how excited the neighborhood became during this season. People dressed up (picture the Walking Dead but in real life, now picture me hiding in our house), put decorations around their homes, and trick or treating was a major event. The neighborhood seemed alive. So when Christmas rolled around that year I was anticipating much of the same thing, but maybe even a little more exciting. However, it was just the opposite. Not a single light, not a single decoration, and the neighborhood, as a whole, seemed very solemn. This was when the idea for Light up the Night started rolling around in my head. It was clear that the true meaning and joy of Christmas had not yet been experienced by the North Highland neighborhood and we were determined to change that. Probably one of my most favorite chapters in all of Scripture is John 1. The whole chapter describes Jesus’ coming into the world and over and over throughout this chapter Jesus is described as “the Light”. My favorite verses in that chapter are John 1:4-5, “Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overcome it.” Those verses have been my lifeline since moving into North Highland and they are the very essence behind Light up the Night. Our family, Highland Community Church, and Truth Spring have taken residence in North Highland for one purpose, to testify about the Light. That is why I love Light up the Night. Because for that one day and then throughout the rest of the month of December, each evening when it gets dark outside and a family turns on on their Christmas lights they are sending out a visual proclamation to those living in our neighborhood that no matter how dark or discouraging life might sometimes seem, Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot and will not ever overcome it!
Let me end by sharing a story from this year’s Light up the Night event. This year the youth group from St. Andrews Presbyterian Church decorated the house next door to us. A married couple named Sonny and Theresa live there and Sonny is a Muslim. On occasion Theresa has come to Highland for church but Sonny never comes with her. He refused. When I first told Sonny and Theresa about Light up the Night and asked for permission to decorate their house, they agreed but I don’t think they thought it was actually going to happen. They could not believe that people they did not know were going to come to their house and decorate it for Christmas. They thought it was too good to be true. After the event was over that day, and they did indeed have a beautifully decorated house, they were so excited! They were outside showing it off to everyone who walked by. The next day Sonny and Theresa walked out their front door, walked a short distance and turned and went inside Highland Community Church for the first time, together. That is why we hang Christmas lights on our neighbors homes each year. You see at some point during Light up the Night, as the youth from St. Andrews were decorating their house, the light of Christ began to pierce the darkness and shine in the life of Sonny. Because as John 1 says, the same life that was in Christ is now in me, and in you, and in the St. Andrews youth group and “that life is the light of men”. The book of Isaiah says it this way, “To those living in the land of deep darkness there shone a bright light”. To St. Andrews and all the others who come out to help us this Saturday and in year’s past, thank you for shining a bright light on the North Highland community!