Across the Pastor’s Desk: We must learn to follow the light
Published 9:28 am Friday, February 17, 2017
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Rev. Matt Griggs.
Matt Griggs is the pastor of Central Freeborn Lutheran Church.
“I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12 (RSV)
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Do you reflect the light of Christ? I believe that if we got this question figured out, we have the secret of ministry for ourselves and the kingdom.
In other words, if we reflect the light of Christ well, our work before God and humanity will be healthy and productive. So, in a more directive sense, “How’s your reflection?”
If we are honest, we would have to say a little dirty. Our lives collect dust, grime and impurities. Just like a lighthouse that needs to have its mirrors polished, we need to ask God to remove that which does not reflect the light of Christ.
However, maybe our issue isn’t just dirty mirrors. Maybe we have to direct our lives toward the light rather than away. The word “repent” conveys this understanding. To repent means to turn toward something while turning away from something else.
Martin Luther had a thought of the Christian life that might on the surfaced sound depressing, “Christianity is a life of repenting!”
Doesn’t that sound optimistic! It would be depressing if repenting means polishing and shining stains that never come out. But if repenting means turning toward the light — no matter the quality of the life — it can be the greatest gift we can have.
Let’s face it, we would all be blinded by a lighthouse if we looked for the imperfections while the panels are reflecting the light. It’s only away from the light that we see the imperfections.
But when the lighthouse keeper focuses on the placement of the panels, then the work of lighting the sea is accomplished regardless of the imperfections!
We do need to acknowledge our natural imperfection and sins, but sometimes we get so stuck in our focus on them; we forget to reflect the light. In our stories of epiphany, we are reminded to seek out the light regardless of who we are and what we are able to do or not do.
As the wise men, we are to follow the star of God whether we know our place in God’s kingdom. The wise men were not part of the story of Israel before the star, but after the revealing of Jesus, all nations become part of the story.
The word epiphany means manifestation of God. That means to bring into the present. Not some pipe dream, but a revealing today that we are part of the story of God and the life of God.
Usually, epiphany means an intense focus on our missions both here and around the world. That’s why it’s great to have our annual meetings to reflect about our common reflection of Christ. We have imperfect, human tools and resources to do this mission. We may not perceive that we have all the necessary resources. We even dream about the day our physical bodies and corporate churches will perfectly reflect the light of God. That is still promised.