Wired Stars

In the quick darkness of a winter afternoon, the glow of Christmas lights makes cheerful the city. Crowded strangers, in groups measured by traffic lights, are warmed and patterned and painted by the strings of lights at corners. Shoppers, passing windows of daylight, are framed as though they belonged together.

In that nave of the cathedral of merchandise, the grand aisle on the main floor, metropolitans pause to look up at a winking firmament of incandescent stars. One even points a child’s eyes upward—perhaps to glimpse in them the dancing reflection of the sparkling lights of Christmas.

What would the season be without electricians? I studied the store’s canopy of wired stars. What happened, I wondered, when a star blew out? Did it carry a string of stars with it? Would it be replaced after closing hours by a union man on some towering “cherry-picker” crane? Or would it hang like a dead star in a galaxy until the end of the season?

My reverie on circuitry was switched off as the great organ began to play a selection from Handel’s Messiah. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.…”

The Light of Christmas is not the composite glow of men’s lamps, nor the vast glitter of fleeing galaxies. It shines above that fiat of cosmic illumination from which all suns rise, “Let there be light!” It is the Alpha Light of the first, uncreated Word, the Omega Light of glory in the new creation. Shepherds, blinded by the radiance of angelic glory, peered into the darkness of a manger to see the greater Light. He is the true Light, who came into the world.

Yet the judgment is that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light. God has set his glory above the heavens; the Lamp of God’s ...

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