"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot, be hidden neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
Reading this Scripture reminded me of a night when I was a child. Mother and Daddy took us to, "a city on a hill," where we had never been, "a place up the river," they said.
It was a cold, bitter evening when the family left home to travel to this city on a hill. Soon we began to ask, "Are we getting close? Are we almost there? Reassured it would be just a little while, we fell quiet again. As we traveled along the country roads, we gazed out the window, Christmas lights, shining from the windows of farmhouses on the hillside above kept our attention for a while.
Soon the questions, "How much longer will it be, Daddy? Why is it so long?" Then mother interrupted with her usual solution to our restlessness, "Let's sing Christmas songs she said as her beautiful voice began, "O Holy Night…" accompanied only by our silence. In the stillness of the moment, we were comforted, though crowded in the backseat of our old, black Plymouth. As Mother sang, we continued to watch for the city on the hill, "O Little Town of Bethlehem," rang out as we saw the lights on the hill high above the road.
Excitement mixed with the sound of bells and chimes in full accompaniment Mother's beautiful voice continued to fill the air. Bethlehem was our destination that night! The cold air clouded our breathe and the scene before us warmed our hearts as we road toward the end of town. The stable came alive with people and animals as we witnessed the scene of that first Christmas night. We were in Bethlehem as we knelt among others to worship the Christ child!
I hear the words, O Holy Night as I recall the sights and sounds of the night men, women and children knelt in the stable and sang with us. I wonder where are they now?
Living in the town of Bethlehem must have caused them to be very aware of the impact they had on the lives of others. I wonder; did they always let their light shine for all to see? Did they live in the light of Christ everyday, or just at Christmas time? How bright are our lights, do they shine for all to see everyday or just some days? When others see us, do they see the light of Christ or do we have it hidden by anger, lack of forgiveness and unrepentant hearts?
O God, our God, great is Your love for us; how abundant Your bountiful grace. Thank You for the ability to recall precious moments from our past. Memories, which remind us to share our inner light through good deeds and caring ways. Help us Father to remember we are each a city on a hill and the Light lives within us. O God, our God when our flame begins to flicker, let it not die. O God, strike a match in our hearts that they may burn from the recognition and acceptance of Your unending love for each of us. In the name of Jesus who is our Light, Your Son and our brother, I pray. Amen, Amen.
Author's note: Bethlehem, Indiana is about an hour's drive from my home in Jeffersonville. It is a tourist sight, where people travel from around the country all months of the year to have their Christmas cards postmarked, Christmas in Bethlehem.