Merry Christmas! Let the Disco Ball Shine!
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. —Ephesians 5:8
During my 16-year tenure as senior pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I preached at over 50 Christmas Eve services. The first two services of the evening were designed for families with young children. For those services, I tried to find compelling illustrations or demonstrations that would engage everyone in the sanctuary, even the little ones, and help them grasp the wonder of Christmas.
One year, my own children joined me. Nathan read the Scripture, which happened to be Ephesians 5:8: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Then, he and my daughter Kara assisted me as I shone a brilliant spotlight on a large, vibrantly wrapped Christmas present in the center of the stage. I talked about how Jesus was the light of the world. Even as the spotlight made the present look especially bright and colorful, so Jesus shines into the world, revealing the true beauty and wonder of life.
“But there is more here—a big surprise,” I said. “Jesus doesn’t just shine on us. He also wants us to reflect his light into the world. He shines in the world through us.” At this moment, my kids lifted up the wrapped part of the large present, exposing a mirror-covered disco ball that was spinning as if by magic. (In fact, it was battery powered.) The light from the spotlight reflected off the hundreds of small mirrors, filling the whole sanctuary with dazzling, swirling spots of light. I heard gasps of wonder as worshipers young and old were inspired by the spectacle before them.
This was one of my all-time favorite moments of Christmas Eve worship. It’s not just that people were impressed by the illustration. I felt as if they were really getting the underlying point. Jesus is the true light. We are the light insofar as we reflect him into the world. But, and this is key, we are not individual mirrors, but rather partners in a heavenly disco ball. One of those little mirrors all by itself would be relatively unimpressive. The collection of mirrors was stunning.
When Ephesians 5:8 says “now you are light in the Lord,” it is not speaking to us just as individuals, but also as members of Christ’s body. Individually and together, we are light in the Lord. Individually and together, we are to live as children of light. Individually and together, we will shine the light of Christ throughout the darkness of the world. You are a mirror and so am I. We will fulfill our reflective calling only when we join together in common work and witness.