The Main Street U.S.A. housed the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland and for the first time, instead of two nights, there were twenty. My daughter Cami encouraged me to attend the last night of the schedule, and I am glad I did. The crowd gathered to see and hear a full orchestra perform, trumpeters heralding atop the train station roof, hundreds of choir members singing renditions of traditional Christmas songs, and a retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator. This night it was John Stamos.
A couple aspects of the processional stood out to me. Almost every one of the musical selections, beautifully performed with typical Disney excellence, was focused on Christ. These were interspersed between the readings based on the biblical narrative of Jesus’ birth, life, and death. Yes, his birth, life, and death. Disappointed that Jesus’ resurrection was not explicitly mentioned (Maybe next year, Disneyland), but pleasantly surprised by any mention of Jesus’ life beyond his birth. Many moments were just plain worshipful. Part of that worship was seeing the biblical narrative heard by thousands each night.
I pulled out my phone and captured a couple segments:
The Candlelight Processional brought to mind thoughts on God’s use of light in Scripture. Not only was light the first created thing, it is the basis for all of life. Its first mention is in Genesis (1:3-4) and is found in Revelation (22:5). Within these bookends, light is mentioned over 200 times. Light is associated with life, safety, and guidance. Be it a pillar of fire, the glorious cloud that settled on Mount Sinai as Moses ascended to receive the 10 Commandments, or the Shekinah that filled the temple when Solomon dedicated it, the pages of the Old Testament are filled with light expressing the mystery of God’s divine presence.
In the New Testament, the appearance of the angels to the shepherds is accompanied by great light (Luke 2:9), and a star leads the way of the Magi to the house where they would find the Christ child (Mt 2:9-10). Luke records light from heaven flashing about Paul at his conversion (Acts 12:7). Light symbolizes God’s goodness, blessing, holiness, and favor, as opposed to evil, which is described as darkness.
God is the Everlasting Light (Isa 69:19-20), the Father of lights (James 1:17), and in him there is no darkness (1John 1:5). Jesus is Light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5). Isaiah’s prophesy of the Messiah’s ministry incorporates the language of light, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, in them has light shined (Isa 9:2). Jesus is the Light who conquered Darkness—the worst the world would/could ever pose—Death.
If God and his Son are light, light becomes a natural symbol for salvation and new life. If God is light, to come to God is to come to the light and to receive life. Believers are those who have been called “out of the darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
And what does one call a corporate gathering of like-Spirited people? The Church.
Yet, as Vincent Van Gogh depicts in his famous painting The Starry Night, the central image, a church, is the only building amid the well-lit community that is dark within. This is what happens when we perceive our God as too small. When we fail to get to know the God of all creation and the giver of life the way he has revealed himself in His Word. When we fail to know the God Who is light and who has called us to be light.
You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).
The culmination of God’s work in human history, His Story, involves light. The city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev 21:23). Night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light (Rev 22:5).
As Light into darkness has come and now resides in us, we are instruments for and of God turning darkness into the light.