Lights brighten the holidays

Published 12:22 am Saturday, December 20, 2008

As I write on the night of Dec. 12, I have just come inside after standing in the backyard, shivering in the cold and gazing at the bright, beautiful full moon. My husband and I rushed to our kitchen window to get a first look when I heard a television meteorologist say that it is the closest Earth’s only natural satellite has come to its mother planet in 15 years and the nearest until the year 2016. Then we stepped outside to get a better view.

It struck me as fitting that it has occurred during the Advent season, the time when Christians prepare their hearts and lives for a celebration of God’s greatest gift, the birth of our Lord and Savior. Right now, there are a lot of noticeable lights shining on street posts, adorning trees and bushes and dangling from rooftops signifying the Christmas season. That spectacular view of the moon outshined them all.

When the colorful decorations and lights appear all over town year after year, I think of the big Christmas star that my husband, who was then minister of the Lillian United Methodist Church, and a couple of the men of the church decided to build and display on the church yard years ago. It wasn’t an easy task they set for themselves, but they were persistent. They constructed it on an eight feet square wooden base covered with aluminum foil. The board that held the electric Christmas lights outlining the star was soft enough to drive staples in it. Every time one of them drove a staple into a wire by mistake, it sparked and sent out a shock that jolted anyone touching the board. They all quickly learned to keep their hands off that board. It took two or three days and quite a few shocks to put it together the way they wanted it.

At the beginning of the Advent season, they propped it up on the high ground of the churchyard against one of the pecan trees and plugged it in. It was visible to motorists as they rounded a curve on U.S. Highway 98 traveling from Foley to Pensacola. It was a breathtaking sight and attracted a lot of attention. Some people turned off the highway and drove by the church just to get another look. One man even dropped a note to the church, expressing his appreciation for the star that represented the birth of the Christ child.

One year we stationed luminaries that sent out a warm glow, lighting the driveway and the sides of the church during the annual candlelight Christmas Eve Communion service. It was so beautiful that we tried to use them again the next Christmas Eve, but the weather was uncooperative. The wind blew just enough to topple them over and the candles inside the paper bags set them on fire. We tried it several more years, but the weather was just never right for them.