I’ve heard thousands of sermons and attended a handful of Advent services. As I consider these messages, from the magical to the mundane, I can honestly say that very few provided the level of practical day-to-day advice one speaker imparted when he pulled a “plastic gun” from his pocket and introduced parishioners to the wonders of the Lightkeeper Pro, a product with the bold claim of being the “complete tool” for fixing light sets and pre-lit trees.
Not only does this little invention make my top five list of bits of worldly wisdom shared from a church stage, it might be one of the greatest inventions of modern technology … move over Apple products!
Let me explain: When you attach this toy-like innovation to a string of impotent Christmas lights and click the trigger — something wondrous and unexplainable happens. It brings light where there was none. My wife was putting up a string of lights the other week and plugged them in to find that several were not working. We’ve all been there haven’t we? She retrieved our mystical Lightkeeper, pulled the trigger several times, and before we could pour another cup of eggnog, the room was filled with the soft glow of Christmas lights.
So take hope all you burdened with strings of burned out, overused holiday lights, all you heavy laden with temporarily darkened artificial trees … there is help at your local drug store. I will forever be indebted to that bearded church elder for introducing us to this light-keeping miracle. The rapid clicking sound of that little tool has become embedded in Christmas tradition at our house.
When the family sat down Sunday night to light our Advent candles and read Scripture, I was reminded of the Lightkeeper Pro as my children clicked the button over and over on a childproof lighter, struggling to ignite the assigned candles around the Advent wreath. The darkness at our table was slowly displaced by the warmth and the comfort of each flame — in some Christian traditions symbolizing hope, love, joy and peace. There was light where there had been none before.
The images and sounds of my children lighting the candles and reciting the Scriptures for each movement of the Advent celebration have been stuck in my head since that evening … and so has the little light-reviving plastic gun. I think many of us feel like an old string of burned-out Christmas lights this time of year. What should be a time of joy can be dimmed by stress and busyness. It is often a time when the darkness of our grief and loneliness can seem insurmountable: We feel artificial, worn out, “lightless.”
Those moments of remembering the soft Advent candlelight in our kitchen have played the role of the Lightkeeper Pro for my burnt-out bulbs. That is the true gift of the Christmas observance: to remind us of the illuminating love of God’s gift to our world, to our neighborhood, to our very lives. We are celebrating the birth of the One who says, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” (John 8:12, The Message translation)