Follow the light of the world and find Christ

Published 10:26 am Friday, January 4, 2013

Column: Across the Pastor’s Desk, by the Rev. Cherie Daniel

Freeborn Congregational United Church of Christ

Alden United Methodist Church

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Grace United Methodist Church in Kiester

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

I’ve tried to imagine this scene. It is difficult to do without having the earth be a round ball of ocean. The wind blows, the tides move restlessly without a shore to land upon. I imagine that there are whitecaps atop the waves, but without light to see them, how could we know? Without the sun, there are no sparkling diamonds flashing off the surface. Without the moon, there are no pools of silvery mercury spreading to an unseen shore. Without the stars, there is no way to tell where the sky ends and the waters begin. And so, the first thing that God recognizes as the need for this world is this: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” — Genesis 1:3-4

Ah, the light! Or rather, the lights — plural! Now the sparkles come. Now the diamonds shine. The light transforms a frightening event into one with less fear, because the light reveals the truth of the scene.

“When Jesus was born, the angels appeared to the shepherds as they did their jobs, watching their flocks in the middle of the night. Darkness enveloped them. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” — Luke 2:9. It wasn’t so much the appearance of the angel that shocked the shepherds, but the “glory of the Lord” that shone around them. Suddenly light erased the darkness. Everything was made clear. The shepherds went “with haste” to the manger. Light created urgency, inspired action.

We are deep in the season of winter, the season of darkness. Nights are longer than days. Darkness rules. Many of us are feeling sluggish, slow, lethargic. Some of us enter into a state resembling hibernation — our body clocks tick more slowly, our energy levels are low, our enthusiasm is curbed. If this is where we are stuck, then we are not paying attention!

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” — Isaiah 60:1. This is the truth that has come to us — as we are people of faith — an impetus for inspired action. It almost sounds like the words a personal trainer might say to us — “Get up! This is the time for moving! Now is your chance!”

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to you father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16. Rather than wallow in the darkness, we are called to get out there and do something.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.” — Isaiah 9:2 In the darkness, the people at least walked. Surely in the light we can move at a little quicker pace. Our hearts, if not our legs, can race! The energy brought by the light of God can empower us to act with determination in the arenas where we have felt passion.

Is it global warming? Is it world hunger? Is it HIV/AIDS or cancer or heart disease? Is it illiteracy? Is it teen pregnancy? Where is your passion? What issues have been “brought to light” for you? How will you begin — with writing letters, making telephone calls, researching on the Internet, knocking on doors? With your passion, with your talents, using the permission and power with which you have been gifted, you can make a difference. Like the magi who followed the light of the star and found the Christ, we can follow the light of the world and find Christ living among us.

“O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” — Isaiah 2:5