Monday, December 11, 2017
"John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world" (John 1:8-9).
That short passage says so much. John's gospel tells of Jesus as "the light of the world" (John 8:12). When Jesus makes this remark He is standing outside the temple and a huge menorah is lighting the front of the temple. The people walked by and marveled, just as we drive by a beautiful Christmas light display. They would have conversed about the beauty and majesty of the display. Then this upstart itinerant preacher comes and says HE is the light of the world. How audacious! But John 1 says "He was the true light who gives light to everyone." What does this mean to us during this Christmas season?
First, we need light. There has been a rash of lights going out in the church. We are replacing the lights with LED bulbs because they provide more light and use less energy. When the lights were replaced in the Sanctuary we were all able to see the beautiful and complex woodwork on the ceiling. That work was not done by amateur carpenters. But the light also revealed that several stained-glass windows needed work, some of the paneling needed touch-up and other cosmetic dings had happened over the years. I think we need light for both of those reasons. To reveal the intricate beauty of every person and also to highlight the dings and dents needing work. Isaiah reminded us that when Jesus came "the people walking in darkness have seen a great light" (Isaiah 9:2).
Second, we don't need "fake" light. We need true light. I used to do consulting work and I was told "if the client wants a green suit you turn on the green lights." That saying spoke to our desire to have our ears tickled (" For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires" 2 Timothy 4:3). We don't need a light that masks the truth. We need a light that tells and draws out the truth ... even if the truth shows our dings and dents.
Finally, we must never forget that the light of Christ is a precious gift. For the light of truth brings freedom. So ... what does the light of truth tell us about our current situation? I think it says we are "filled up" and busy with things that are primarily meaningless. It says we would rather run from (and hide in the darkness from) our problems rather than face and overcome them (Lord, you know I have been there .. it doesn't work). It says we allow our feelings to lead us into thoughts like "I am burnt out and need more rest" rather than "Wow, God is working in me and in what I am doing and I want more of that and less of me" (Lord forgive me when I was a whiner). It says, "Let my past hurts keep dragging me down so that my present and future will be filled with an accumulation of those hurts, rather than the freedom of following God" (Lord, let me never again allow anger and loss rule my spirit). I wonder ... has Jesus' light come to the places and people who worship in the heat, cold, danger and discomfort because they have decided that faith is all about God and not so much about me? The light that gives hope, strength, direction, revelation and warmth has come into the world! THAT light is here. When David saw that light he said, "He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:1-3). THAT is my Advent prayer for you today! Randy