Thursday, December 22, 2011

Light Up the Patches of Darkness

A beautiful live Christmas tree adorns our home. It is work to get it in place and decorated every year but now I can enjoy it. After the initial work of trimming the tree is done I sit back and look at how it turned out and inevitably I will see “patches of darkness”. There are too many lights in one place and not enough in other places. We shift the strands of lights around until the distribution of light is more uniform.

According to the Gospel of John, when Jesus was born, light rushed into the world; that light was the light of all people and darkness couldn't overcome itJohn 1:4-5. (Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus twice refers to himself as light of the worldJohn 8:12; John 9:5.)

The Gospel writer goes on to explain that a man named John “the Baptist” (a cousin of Jesus?) was a witness to the light and went forth to testify about the light so that all might believe through him—John 1:8-9. There was this wonderful new kind of light in the world but it’s the kind of light that’s not obvious to the untrained eye. You have to “learn how to see it,” and you have to “see” to believe.

John the Baptist saw the “God light” himself and then went forth to help others “see”. Followers of Christ are likewise called to see the light of Jesus in our world and be the light of Jesus for our world.

Our Christmas trees have “patches of darkness” and we arrange the strands of lights so that the darkness is overcome. I think that gives us a great image of how the Church ought to function.

Christ’s Body should be strands of “God-light” in our world. The Church ought to spread out across the world so that “patches of darkness” are minimized to the extent possible. Our “God-light” should make this world a brighter place…

Christ told his followers that they were light of the world and urged them to let their light shine among men to the glory of God—Matthew 5:14-16. Jesus made his life a living example for us of how we might do that. Paul called the Christians in Philippi to follow Christ’s example, challenging them to shine like stars in a “dark” place—Philippians 2:5-11; 15. We, the followers of Jesus, need to hear this same call today. The “God-light” is in each one of us but too often it remains “hidden”. We need to let our light shine in a world that desperately needs to “see” the light that only Christ can bring.

Over the mountains
Into the valleys
Crossing the ocean
And through the darkness
To all the hopeless
For all the broken
I'll carry the light

—From Carry the Light, by Mark Harris

1. Have you experienced “God-light” in your life? Do you share it or hide it?

2. What holds you back from letting your light shine?

3. What/who can help encourage you to let your light shine more?

4. What is one way you could illuminate a “patch of darkness” this Christmas?

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