Last Monday, after a good 8 hours of continuous lecturing well into the evening at the seminary, I was well received at home by a bright Christmas tree in the corner of our dark living room. The brightness of the tree began to make my heart feel merry as well. It definitely felt like a warm reception as I arrived home late. I often come home at late hours, but I always felt that having the lights on is better than off. Although everyone is fast asleep, the kitchen counter light in its delicate warmth always feels like a welcoming embrace. Now that I think about it, there is another occasion where I feel the same welcoming embrace. It is when I come home to a welcoming fragrance. We light candles when we cook, but the reassuring fragrance of a clean and organized home is welcoming all in its own. I also love the smell of freshly cooked bread with my morning coffee. It's a tumultuous time as our older children go off to work and the little one goes off to school, but the ambiance of classical music with some contemporary Christian songs to add in some flavor engulfed in the smells of the drip coffee pour-overs after my morning exercise is more than enough to usher in a feeling of positivity even when hearing unfortunate news.
They say that humans have 5 senses, and that among the 5 senses the sense of sight and smell have the potential to shape our moods. Perhaps that is why Jesus told us to become the light of the world, and the fragrance of Christ Himself.
As my youngest daughter goes upstairs, she turns off the Christmas tree lights. When asking her why she turns the lights off, she retorts with saying that nobody is there to see the light, so why leave it on? Initially I thought she was trying to save on electricity, but after hearing the practical reasons from my 8th grade daughter that seemingly is not able to reach my degree of sensitivity regarding the tree, I told her as I was reigniting the flame, that even though there is no-one to see it, it is comforting to have it on. It's about feeling it without needing to see it. I feel as if the world is emblazoning with lights at the mere thought of knowing the Christmas tree is lit. This is what dreams are all about. It's the power behind vision. With this particular type of practicality in mind, it is reason enough to leave the Christmas tree lights on. As everyone is fast asleep this night, the light being emitted from the Christmas tree in the living room reminds us that we should also strive to become light in the world no matter how dark and dreary it gets. We put a star at the top of the tree. It's symbolic for the light of the world. It's the star that led the wise men to our Lord Jesus Christ at the advent, this season. Afterwards, the star became used symbolically for the Lord. Jesus is the star for this hopeless, dark world. As long as the stars in the night sky keep shining bright, the arms of the savior are open wide.
Rev. Bryan Kim is the lead pastor of Bethel Korean Church, located in Irvine, CA.