The First Sunday After Christmas Day
December 30, 2007
Isaiah 61:10—62:3 Psalm 147
Galatians 2:23-25; 4:4-7
The collect for today calls our minds and our hearts to focus on the concept of light. We prayed about the light of Jesus as the incarnate Word. We pray that this light will be enkindled in our hearts to shine forth in our lives.
Light can be quite a powerful thing. The light of the moon on a quiet clear winter night is amazing. In a clear and empty sky, you see the powerful light of the moon. The red light of the bright sun on the snow covered mountains as the sun gets ready to rise gives hope of the end of darkness. Light can be bright or dim, but no matter how dim, always illuminates the darkness. If you have ever watched the beginning of a “Survivor” season, you learn something about light and its power. As the contestants are abandoned without matches or other tools to start a fire, their lives become consumed with creating this light. That first moment when a spark is created is always powerful and exciting. People rush around, the barely burning ember is cared for and cherished until it breaks forth with the flame. They at last have that flame that will enlighten and warm their lives and provide a light in the darkness.
The Gospel of John is filled with contrasts. One of the powerful contrasts the author of John uses over and over again is the contrast of the light and the darkness. The author of John speaks of the light piercing the darkness. In the mystery of the incarnation, God become man, Emmanuel, God among us. Emmanuel is the source of light in a world filled with darkness. God came on earth to drive the darkness away.
For thirty-some years the light of God walked this earth. The light of God was present physically on earth. Then it was thought that the power of darkness overcame the light. It was feared that this light was extinguished in the crucifixion. Snuffed out, just like the candles on the altar. Burning brightly one moment and snuffed out in the next.
But the light of God cannot be snuffed out as simply as a candle. The light of God has power within itself. Light overcoming even the darkness of death is what Jesus is all about. In our celebration of the incarnation, the death of Jesus can never be far away. Jesus death on the cross seemed like the triumph for darkness. I think Jesus disciples thought that as well. And yet, while by the world’s standards it seemed that darkness won. It was for this very purpose that God had sent Jesus into the world. The seeming victory of darkness over light in the death of Jesus was an illusion. It was an illusion broken in the power of the resurrection.
You don’t have to look very far to find a lot of darkness remaining in this world of ours today. Famine, murder, war, and oppression rear their dark and ugly faces on a regular basis. We seem live in a world full of darkness. Sometimes in the safety and light of St. Peter’s it can be easy to forget this. All can seem so safe and secure here that it lulls us into a false sense of security. But we need to remember that the darkness is out there. God calls us to be the lights in our own world.
Who will be the source of light in the world around us today? Someone certainly needs to be. Someone needs to be willing. John shared a story with me this week about himself. I may get a few details off, but I think I have the gist of it.
One day when John was at work, a long time ago in a place far away, he was sitting in the break room. Someone was using the microwave oven and it or something in it caught fire. John remembers sitting there thinking that someone should put the fire out. John kept on wondering why someone would not get moving and put the fire out. It seemed unreasonable to John that no one would take care of this urgent need. Finally it dawned on John that he was someone! And he got up and put the fire out.
Someone needs to be the light in our world today. But we cannot just sit around and think to ourselves that someone else should be doing it. When we are wondering who it is God is calling to work in the world and bring light to the darkness, it is important that we recognize that we are the someone that God is calling. We are the ones God is calling to be a light in the world around us.
What kind of light are you in the world of darkness around us? Perhaps you are as bright as the shining sun. Or just perhaps you are that ember, feeling so small, feeling so very insignificant. But no light is insignificant. All light is possessed of the same power, the power to drive out the darkness. Just as Jesus walked this world as a light in places of darkness, so too we are called upon by God to walk this world as light in the darkness. We have the light of God in us which we need to let shine forth.
It may feel like just a tiny ember at times and at other times it may feel like the blazing of the sun. But no matter how weak or power, it is the light of God and it drives out the darkness around us.
God can and will use each and every one of us as God’s lights in the darkness. While we might feel that our light is small and insignificant, nothing is insignificant when put to God’s purposes. So let your light shine bright in the world around you.