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  • Writer's pictureBeth Hildebrand

What Suddenly Happened On A Cold, December Evening

Three, two, one…

All of a sudden on a dark and cold evening, the corner of Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail, and even farther, lit up with a bright and blazing light.

As an early Christmas gift, my mother gave my family and my sister’s family an early Christmas gift – tickets to see 42nd anniversary of The Christmas Carol in Raleigh, NC at the “fancy” theater.  It was the first time for all of her grandchildren. When I was growing up, my parents would take my sister and me to this classic performance to see the Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the three Christmas spirits, along with many singing and dancing townspeople – and not forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. They took us so we’d experience some “culture” and get us in the Christmas spirit – like it really took a lot because it doesn’t take children much to get excited about Christmas.

Two weeks ago when we went to see it again, it was fun as always, but it’s what happened afterwards that was most meaningful for me that December day.  Leaving the theater, we drove to the highest point in the city of Raleigh.  At that high point sits the church I grew up in – Highland United Methodist church – hence why it has that name.

The steeple was tall and at the tip-top was a cross.  But it could hardly be seen when the sun set each day.  There were no lights around the base of the steeple to light it up when it was dark outside.  For years, the members of the church had wanted to install lights so the illuminated steeple led people to look up to heaven.  But because of the aging church building, funding needed to go to maintenance and repairs and not wishes.

When my dad passed away four months ago, people wanted to show their condolences so we told others we’d appreciate if they’d make a contribution to our church in his memory.  The church was so blessed with memorial  after memorial that poured in.  The church leaders then decided what to do with the gifts –light that steeple up to bring light to that corner on this earth because Jesus’ light shined through Dad.  He had always wanted to be able to have lights shine on it for its beauty and to point people to God in heaven but the funding just wasn’t there.

So, the last couple of months, lights were installed to the steeple and the church wanted our family to all be together the first time they lit it in the night sky. In the brisk dusk as darkness blanketed the sky, bundled in our coats, we gathered outside under the steeple.  The Building Committee (which dad was chair of) and maintenance staff gathered with us as their pastor prayed before the steeple was lit.  My son, was asked to be the one to “flip the switch” for the first time.

At 5:45pm all of a sudden light broke the darkness!



Reflecting during this Advent season about that priceless experience, it made me think about Jesus bringing light everywhere the night he was born.  All of a sudden when Jesus emerged into the dark world, his light brought joy and answered prayers of salvation.

That church had been waiting for years for light to shine on their steeple. For years generations of people had been waiting for the promise of the Light of a Savior too.

This month, I’ve been reading a book called Come Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting by Kris Camealy. She writes,

“Though the Light of the World, (Christ), appears to be slow in His coming, His light does not meander into the world like the slow rising dawn. His coming, long foretold, is quickly realized as He slips out into a dim cave, in the night of a waiting world so long blanketed in shadow and darkness.  He comes to us in that long-awaited moment awakening our hearts to Himself, as if someone has suddenly raised the shades.  Our Light has come.  And with His coming, all of the happenings of the dark shall cease.”

Jesus is the Light of the world. The Light that suddenly, like a light switch, “overcame the pitch black of the waiting world” the night he was born.

As we’ve been waiting for the arrival of Jesus, I hope it has been, and will be, one of hope and peace and that you’ll experience an explosion of light in your heart and soul as we celebrate Jesus’ birth.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

What are you doing to let your light shine so that others might see Jesus in you?

Merry Christmas, friends!



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