As a kid, one of my favorite things to do at Christmas time was to take an evening drive with the family and look at the Christmas lights and decorations on the neighborhood houses in our town. I remember how the car windows would fog up with condensation and I remember how we would inch along with the rest of the traffic, taking a long look at the really “good” displays.
Now I have a family of my own. During the years that we lived in the United States we would load up the car and take a tour of the Christmas lights of the city. We knew where the really good subdivisions were and we “oohed” and “aahed” our way through the neighborhoods with the hundreds of other cars. In the days preceding Christmas my daughters would ask, “When are we going to go see the lights?” I loved driving them through the subdivisions, hearing them comment on the beautiful decorations and watching them doodle pictures on the fogged up side windows of the car.
These days we live in a large city in South Korea. We don’t have a car, we get around by taxi and subway and there are no subdivisions to drive through. The city is full of tall twenty story apartment buildings and there are very few Christmas lights on display as they would pale in comparison to the lights and signs of the stores, shops and businesses in the urban environment.
However, we have found one place where there are lots of cool Christmas lights. The downtown area of the city has an elaborate display of decorations and these combined with the thousands of people walking throughout the shopping area make it a very festive place to visit during the Christmas Season. Last year we enjoyed the lights of downtown and we looked forward to seeing them again this year.
As I reflect on my childhood memories of driving around and seeing the lights I realize that I can’t remember what a single light display looked like. As I think about my experience of taking my own children around the neighborhoods to look at the lights of Christmas I realize that it wasn’t about the lights—it was about the experience of being together.
When Jesus, the light of the world came upon the scene that first Christmas, the angel announced His coming by stating “peace on earth, goodwill to men.” Something very special happened on that evening in history. God came near to be together with us. God reached out to you and me with His son, Jesus Christ, to restore us unto Himself—so that we could be together with Him. The glitz, glamour and flashing lights of life fade quickly from our memories but the warmth of relationship creates a lasting impression.
Last night, my wife, my two daughters and I walked arm in arm through the spectacular Christmas lights, sounds and crowds of South Korea. I loved it. It was a great memory most of all because we were….together.