Greetings one and all. I sincerely hope that you have all had a most wonderful Holiday period, whether you are celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, or simply just enjoying some time off of work to spend with family and loved ones.
I for one, have been thinking about one particular idea or thought; light in the face of darkness. It began at a simple yet beautiful Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Burke UMC. I was there with my family, stuffed full of good food, and eager to crawl into bed after the excitement of the day (My Wife’s side of the family gets everyone together on Christmas Eve and 25 people in one room for a couple of hours can make anyone tired). As I was sitting there, peeking at my watch and thinking to myself, “I hope this gets done soon.”, I heard the pastor begin his meditation. He began talking about how Christmas is a time for joy, but it is also a time of sorrow. We look to the birth of Jesus, yes, but we also look back on the year and see all of our shortcomings, both personal and communally. This year of 2016 particularly stands out as many are dubbing this year “The worst ever”, what with the election, the senseless violence, the division, the pain and loss of so many; It all hits us that much harder at the end of the year.
And this is where I began thinking about what it actually means to BE the light of the world. The fact is, we are living in a world of spiritual darkness. Yes, there is loss, yes, there is violence, yes, there are things about this world that just really suck. The story of Christmas, then, is a story of bringing light into that darkness, through the person of Jesus. In the Biblical story, Jesus’ brith was like a bright light coming down into a destitute and barren wasteland. The Israelites were scattered and under the oppressive roman rule. They were lost adrift in a vast ocean with no real clear sense of direction. How many of you feel as though YOU are cast adrift with no real sense of what to do or where to turn? I have had many a conversation with people concerning just that very topic. Where do we go from here? The world seems so dark, how can there be any way out of this? I do not know what to do or where to turn. I can’t see the next step.
Enter a little bit of light.
Getting back to the Biblical Story, Jesus claimed to be the “light of the world”. Jesus Himself, claimed to be the guide, that which scatters darkness away. Jesus brings truth and sight to the blind. Jesus helps those who cannot see a way forward to find a way to the other side, but Jesus did not stop there. Jesus also urged others to follow Him as disciples. Disciples are those that do exactly what their rabbi does and says exactly what their rabbi’s said and emulate their rabbi to absolute maximum of their ability. Jesus is saying that He is our rabbi and we are to be His disciples. We are to be like Jesus. We are to be the light of the world.
This is the message of hope. We can be the light of Jesus in this world today. We can grieve with those who have experienced loss. We can love the loveless. We can feed those who have none. We can grow with people. We can bring joy to the downtrodden. In other words, we can BE Jesus. We can bring love and joy and peace into our lives and through that, the lives of those around us.
We are the light shining in the darkness, and when we are lost and when we do not know where to turn or what to do, I urge you to continue forward, because as much as light casts out darkness, it still creates shadows. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. It is in those shadows that God exists, helping us to bear our burdens and move forward. It is God who helps us to press on when we feel we can walk no further. It is God when a friend or a colleague asks you how your day is and it turns into an impromptu counseling session. It is God that speaks to you through the depressing music you re listening to (That’s what I do when I am feeling down). Introspection and trying to figure out what we are feeling and asking questions is a way of us moving forward, back into light. It is God who is in the mundane facets of life that help us through each and every passing day. Let us be the light and hope in the world, but also let us rest upon God and others when we feel like the light in our own lives has been extinguished, because it will happen from time to time.
So I suppose what I am trying to say could be summed up into two points.
- Just as Jesus is light in the face of darkness, pain, and loss, so too are we.
- When our own light seems extinguished, remember you are not alone. You have those around you who will support you, and within that is where God resides, silently helming you to bear your burdens to the other side.
May the rest of your Holiday break be blessed. May you look back at the positive aspects of this past year, but in the face of darkness, may you also either be the light to others, or let others be light to you, even in the face of uncertainty. I am tired and writing this at about midnight, so if this seemed a bit incomprehensible, I apologize. Maybe I’ll go through and edit this and re-release it again at a later date and time. Until then, may you go in peace.
This is a personal blog and does not necessarily represent the views of Community Church or any groups mentioned here