You know you’re maturing when you attend Christmas concerts because you really want to, and you question your gray matter when the seating for that 90-minute concert is a hard church pew and not a cushy auditorium seat.
But as the infant Jesus taught us in the stable, we make do with our surroundings; and as the man Jesus taught us, sometimes the reward is worth the pain.
The concert featured a university choir and a group of musicians so talented that one would think the angels came down from heaven to sing and play just for us.
As I scanned the faces of those young adult singers I noticed that, while they all shared a common theme and a common gift of music, there was a great diversity in their ancestry. And yet, they all stood as one in a church sanctuary in rural Iowa, singing about a baby born 2,000 years ago.
Only the birth of that baby could bring so many people of so many cultures together thousands of years later. After all, Jesus was sent here for people of every race. It was beautiful to see and hear the singing and the amazing musicians giving their gifts of music back to the One who gave it to them in the first place.
And all could see – and hear – that it was good.
As I sat in the church that evening I also noticed that the beautiful and vibrant stained glass windows of the church turned black as the night set in. But they were only black from our perspective inside the church at night. From the outside, the windows – which feature scenes from the life of Christ-were brilliant with color. There is hardly anything more striking than stained glass windows decorating the night.
I thought about how we are like those stained glass windows. When our inner light shines in the darkness around us, others can see it from the outside and their lives are enriched by that light. In the light of day – when our busy-ness, distractions, difficulties and tragedies can darken us on the inside (just as when those stained glass windows appear dark when we see them from the outside during the day), it’s a new perspective. When we look through the stained glass windows from the inside and toward the light, we see that the sun illuminates them and brings them to vibrant life, just as the light of others brings beautiful hope from the outside into our darkness-or simply, into our lives.
Light is important for stained glass windows to be beautiful, and it’s the same with people. We need light from others to help beautify our world view. It’s also important that our inner light shines for others to see, because that inner light lessens the darkness and creates beauty in the depths of whatever crosses, trials or sorrows we might be carrying.
Some wise, unknown person once uttered the phrase, “…Christmas Day is the one day of the year when we all become the people we’ve always wanted to be.”
Our inner light serves as a prism of sorts, refracting – multiplying – and spilling onto everyone around us. As we approach this holiday season, we know it’s not necessarily a happy time for all people, and for various reasons. But if our light shines from the inside, it shows on the outside, creating breathtaking beauty, and bringing light into the darkness that shrouds the holidays for some. It may not eliminate peoples’ pain, but it can surely lighten it.
If our light shines bright enough, it can spark great things even bringing together people of many cultures to celebrate through music, a baby who would change the world.
That baby changed everything.
Beauty begins with each of us becoming the very people we’ve always wanted to be, not only on Christmas, but every day throughout the year. Stained glass windows are beautiful from the inside and from the outside. It just depends on where the light is coming from.
Karen Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.karenschwaller.com.
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