On Monday we started a series looking at the lyrics to the song “A Song and a Christmas Tree” (Andy Williams’ spin on “Twelve Days of Christmas”). You can take each of the twelve gifts given in the song and find spiritual application.

The fourth gift given is “four colored lights” and of course your mind likely goes straight to the array of lights that dot our Christmas trees. The tradition of lighting a Christmas tree dates back to Germany of the 17th century, when believers in Jesus would light their trees with candles (held onto the branches by pins or sealed to them by wax) and would likewise light candles on their windows in order to indicate to passers-by that believers lived there and that fellow believers were welcome to enter and worship with them.

Thomas Edison invented the first “string of electrical Christmas lights” (which were probably more of a fire hazard that the literal candles that used to be used) and from then on the tradition has been to light one’s tree in a variety of colors. Some prefer pale yellow or white, while others like the rainbow-effect of the full spectrum. Modern LED lights make it possible to have both. Who knows what the future brings.

Having said that, you don’t need a lit-up tree to show your neighborhood that yours is a house of Christians, and a mere candle on the window seal should not be the extent of your hospitality. Take what was done Europe of old and go a step more: Brave the cold and windy weather and meet your neighbors personally. Bring them some hot cocoa and sugar cookies and then, after they’ve enjoyed the treats, invite them to worship with you. Shine the Gospel light the way the twinkling lights on your tree shine the happy glow of Christmastime.