Windows into the Light by Michael Sullivan

Purchase a copy of Michael Sullivan's WINDOWS INTO THE LIGHT: A LENTEN JOURNEY OF STORIES AND ART from


Signposts: Daily Devotions

Wednesday, December 24

Because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
—Luke 1:78-79

OK, I'll admit it. I am one of those "traditional Christmas" people. But perhaps not the kind you'd expect.

For today, Christmas Eve, is the day when my family puts up our tree and decorates the house. We do it all on Christmas Eve, and we leave everything in place for the 12 days of Christmas. We're the only ones on our street who do this, and I don't expect others to follow suit; it's just our tradition. And it feels good.

Over the years, some people may have thought the practice odd (until they hear about the activities and gifts for 12 days in a row!). But in our family, the tradition has stuck. It's a way to make sure we keep the day for ourselves—to carve out time with each other.

I'm sure your family also has traditions for the Christmas season. Yours might be putting up the tree exactly two weeks before Christmas, baking a special cookie or cake with a sister or brother, taking a long walk after the big Christmas meal, or calling that special friend who lives across the country. Whatever those traditions, they are worth celebrating. I have a theory: the traditions mark the time and proclaim the light.

When we gather with family and friends, we're basically saying that the darkness of life is dispelled by the gift of grace. Even when we come together with those who push our boundaries, it's the effort to see each other face to face, to take the time to just be there, to extend a helping hand that marks grace in our lives.

Whatever we do, however we share, we mark the time, the season, the feast as a place of light and love. And in so doing, the gift of the Baby under the star has a chance to transform our world into a bright oasis of grace and mercy.

So as you gather today, whether with friends or even by yourself, mark the time. Mark the day. Mark the feast. And let the light of Christ come into the world.

Let no one dwell in darkness.

Come to me God in all the traditions of my life and let this Christmas Eve be a day of light and love for me and all I encounter. Amen.