January 7, 2019- Celebrate! Jesus, the Light of the World- Genesis 1:1-5, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Matthew 5:14-16

jesus_light

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:1-5 (ESV)

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Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.  But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (ESV)

Epiphany is a celebration of revelation. We celebrate the enlightening of the world. We see God revealed to His people in Jesus, the Light of the world. (John 8:12)

Light is an interesting thing. When the lights are on we see things clearly that might not have been evident in the dark.  Anyone who has stepped on dog bones or Legos in the middle of the night in a dark hallway appreciates how easily one can get hurt stumbling in the dark.

Light has a way of repelling and scattering things that rely on the cover of darkness to flourish. Vermin invade and pilfer and destroy in dark places, but not in the light of day. Cockroaches scatter when a flashlight is shined on them and their dank hiding places are exposed.

While all of us live the paradox of saint-and-sinner at the same time, we who are baptized and marked with the Cross of Christ reflect the light and the image of God. The God who said, “Let there be light” is the same God who saves us with His impossible good news.  He is the same God whose Holy Spirit shines His light in and through us.

Not everyone is happy about this great good news. Herod was none too thrilled to hear that there was a true King of the Jews.  Herod tried to kill Jesus before He could ever grow up into a man.  (Matthew 2:13-25) Herod wanted to do away with the light so that the status quo of darkness and corruption could continue on.

God’s people face opposition wherever we go. Our own sinful nature opposes us (the age old battle of our wills vs. God’s will) as well as the forces of evil that live in the world. As we reflect Jesus’ light the elements of darkness will oppose us.  Even so, we press on, because of who Jesus has made us.

Jesus says to His disciples, His people who reflect His light: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, 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 your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)

It may not seem like it at times, but the Light of the world has come. Celebrate and be glad.

January 6, 2017 -Something New (That’s Been There All Along) Isaiah 40:4-5, Matthew 5:14-16

epiphany

One of the definitions Merriam-Webster gives for the word epiphany (other than the Christian holiday that is celebrated today, January 6) is:

A usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.

To have an epiphany is to see something that’s been in plain sight clearly and fully for the first time.  We know that God is with us, that in Him all things were and are and will be, but in Jesus we see God in His fullness.

“Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all people shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:4-5 (NRSV)

The glory and just plain bigness and completeness of God is all around us.  We miss the rapture and awe of God’s creation and God’s world sometimes because we are so mired down in the day to day business (or should I say busyness) that we don’t see it.

life-moves-fast

Epiphany reminds us to open our eyes and ears and hearts and take God in and truly live- but also it reminds us to let Him shine in us and through us, so that He may be seen more fully in His world.

(Jesus said:) “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 your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NRSV)

How can we be the light of the world today?  Even if only in one other person’s world?