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The Skyride ~ by Mark Paul, www.markdpaul.com (Copyright 2012, Mark Paul, not to be re-published without permission)
Every December, high atop Georgia’s Stone Mountain, there are long strings of lights fashioned to a tall pole, arranged in such a way that from any part of the city of Atlanta, it looks like a giant Christmas tree.
Stone Mountain is just what it sounds like, an enormous mountain of granite that rises almost 900 feet into the suburban Atlanta sky. It’s got a carving of three confederate soldiers on its face, the largest carving of its kind in the world. And all around the mountain are tourist-friendly activities. A train, a riverboat, even a 3-D movie and mini-golf.
There’s also the Summit Skyride, high-speed Swiss cable cars that transport passengers from the base of the mountain to the top. Skyride operators collect tickets, load the cars, and press the buttons that put the whole process in motion. In college, this was one of my jobs. I was a Skyride operator for an entire summer, and when Winter Break hit, I went back for a few weeks to earn some extra money.
In December, the Skyride operator had an additional responsibility. One operator per day got the opportunity at dusk to flip the switch that powered the lights of the Christmas tree. With one motion light shined to an entire city. Nearing the end of my 3-week holiday stint, I finally got my chance to turn on the Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure Christmas day had already passed, but I didn’t care. I was excited about the privilege of powering it up. On that night, I brought the light of Christmas to an entire city. Never mind that it was a simple task and if I had not done it, any other minimum-wage-earning chump like me could have accomplished it.
I think that was part of the beauty of it. Becoming a source of light to others didn’t require a fancy job, expensive degrees, or full bank accounts. It just required a willingness to serve and a single touch.
Christmas is a reminder to all of us that God has brought light to the world. Without the birth of Jesus and the glory He carried into this broken planet, there would be no peace on earth in December or any other time. Through Jesus, God reached down and touched humanity. And that touch illuminated not just the city of Bethlehem, not just the world at that time, but it provided light for all cities, for all times, for every person, forevermore. Jesus didn’t have a fancy job, a college degree, or a lot of money. His parents didn’t even have a room to stay in upon his arrival. He was born and placed on hay in the rough rock of an animal feeding trough.
And that moment continues to be the pinpoint that opened a dark world up again to a flood of the brilliant and beautiful and breathtaking light of God.
May the Light of the world bring peace to you and your city this December.
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