The word light is once again a central image in the readings this weekend. Is it not a great gift and wisdom of the church to offer us this image emerging in Advent, bursting forth at Christmas and then lingering throughout these winter weeks?
As our Northern hemisphere slowly begins to see more light at dawn and dusk we can appreciate the power of light. “Your light shall break forth like the dawn” we here from the prophet Isaiah (58.6-10). This reading awakens us to how the light beckons us to healing and the assurance that God is present when we call for Isaiah continues, “Your healing shall spring up quickly… you shall cry for help, and the Lord will say, here I am.”
These are words of balm for me in these winter days. As a steady pace of ministry and projects take shape it these words that give me assurance that I am not alone and that light – true light is always cast upon my path. As Psalm 112 declares, “light rises in the darkness” and this is the reminder I need. As I work on projects and plans, I can sometimes be overwhelmed by the task at hand. Sometimes it can feel daunting or even like I’m the only one out here. I find it funny how quickly I (and I’m assuming many of us) forget that the Light of Christ is ever present with us. That in the tasks great and small, in the burdens light and heavy, in the paths trod lightly and those where we drag ourselves along, that the Light of Christ is always here. “Here I am” Christ says and light once again fills our way.
I often go for a walk a night. As I leave the lights of our entrance way it takes a while for my eyes to adjust not to the darkness but rather to the shades of light which are present in the darkness. Last weekend as I left our entrance and the light faded, my eyes were adjusting and I could sense there was something up ahead on the road. As my eyes adjusted to the light I came upon a mother and her daughters gazing up at the night sky – taking in the stars. As they were enjoying the many speckles of light filling the night sky they were filled with joy and contentment. As I think back to that moment now, I hear in my heart the whisper, “light rises in the darkness, here I am.” Yes, God always finds a way to remind us that God’s love is present and that light is one of the strongest images that God utilizes to remind us of this ever-existing gift. How great is that? I know for myself it is the reminder which I need.
A reminder which has been made known to me over the past 2 months in the physical reality of light. Advent candles glowing, Christmas tree lights twinkling, stars adorning the night sky, the moon at it’s fullest, a candle lit in the chapel, the lamp at the bottom of the stairs, the light left on for a late night return, the dawning of each day and the sun reflecting on the majestic mountains give concrete witness to God’s promise of light. Then today as I glanced through the news, I see that this weekend is the annual Lantern Festival concluding Chinese New Year celebrations. The images of these lanterns rising up is a powerful one which speaks to, “no one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket” (Matthew 5); it speaks to the truth and power of the light which the Body of Christ carries and holds and is called to let shine. Then as I continued to work on this reflection one of best friends calls to tell me he was thinking about me and offered a prayer for me as he walked this morning in the dawning light. This reminded me (on a day I needed reminding) that life is bigger than the reality of my day and how amazing our God is in showing us the power of the promise of light: “Here I am, am I with you.”
Yes, God’s light is ever present in the simplest and also in the most amazing ways. It is calling me to be aware that I am a bearer of this light. It is not something only for the few, it is indeed a gift for each of us. It is something we each carry. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden… let your light shine… give glory to God” (Matthew 5.13-16). The Light of Christ is indeed present in our every day and woven into my; into our DNA. Again, I ask do we believe this?
As this new week begins, I know that I need to continue to be aware of how the gift of light penetrates my days and nights. I need to sit with the gift of healing that is needed in my life for this light truly does call me to wholeness and fullness. I need to let the words whispered by God’s love fill me with the truth which is: “Here I am.” I need to let that feeling of dawn; of light rising in the darkness stir me to being okay to accept that I am a light in the world, called to shine, do good works and give glory to God. Knowing I can do this only because the Light is with, in and for me. What more could I want?
The poet James Russell Lowell once wrote: “Light is the symbol of truth.”
Yes, it is indeed a powerful gift, symbol and truth. May light and truth guide our steps this week.