By John Hugh Tate
Christmastime is here. “Tis the season” can be about many things for many people. Memories, stories, family you love, family you don’t, gifts you give, gifts you want, the life you give, the life you want, history, mystery, faith, doubt, joy, depression. Regardless of your Christmas feelings, the season is rich.
Christmas is much about art and color. How we string the lights, put up the tree, decorate the home—it’s all our personal work of art. Colors we thought we knew are brought to vivid life. Silver, gold, white (hardly ever in Mississippi), green, and classic Christmas red. We may even have our color controversies this time of year—thank you, Starbucks.
Consider artwork for nativity scenes. Time, thought, precision, and detail are put into countless creative works depicting the birth of Christ: Joseph, Mary, Shepherds, and Angels. Many such works are simply spectacular.
Yet even more, Christmas is about the artwork of God’s greatest creation—people. People we love with us. People we love not with us.
This season, I always miss my Grandmother. Her name was Virginia. She was an artist, a painter, a writer, and a teacher. She passed away before I was yet 6. Her life continues to teach me much.
Grandmother Virginia painted nativity scenes. She would take dry, ceramic figures and paint colors on them, seemingly bringing them to life. She taught me about colors. I discovered God’s world was filled with colors I never knew—terracotta, daphne, sassafras. As she gave color to these lifeless statues, she colored my life, in more ways than she will ever know.
Her life is a reminder how we can color another’s life, at Christmas, and all year long. We take this for granted. We miss opportunities to paint a life. Many we know, meet, or cross paths with live without life, joy, peace, or adventure. When we practice such old-fashioned notions like kindness, hospitality, and courtesy, we not only warm hearts—we can give them shape, and hope.
More so, as we shine or reflect the light of Christ, God uses us to bring light into the darkest of hearts. Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”
Thus, whose life will we color?
In answering this question, remember those who’ve colored our own lives. A Grandmother. A parent. A coach. A pastor. A friend. A child.
To those who color our life, who give us shape and form, thank them this Christmas. Let them know how God has used them.
Above all others, how much has Jesus Christ colored your life? We may not realize it, yet He created us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Now, He calls us to walk in His light. Ephesians 5: 8-10 goes on, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” The question is, do we walk in His light? Do we walk as children of light?
Jesus Christ can, at any moment (especially at Christmas) give new life, with all its wonderful colors. Will we turn and trust in Him alone – above our toys, trips, and talents? In the midst of our trials, temptations, and tragedies? Will you let Him color your life anew?
Especially this Christmas.
John Hugh Tate is lead pastor at Bellwether Church in Jackson. He is Linda’s husband, Jack, Logan & Ethan’s dad, and a follower of Christ. His call is to creatively communicate the Gospel through the Church.