A great darkness hung in the air...something had to change. The winds of political unrest crashed against the people. The hunger for power and the ability to control it devoured those who sought it and those who stood in it’s way. The people were caught in currents of “they said”, “we said,” our word against yours, and many struggled to know what was Truth, and who they could trust. People were condemned, lived in hiding, or worse, were beaten, some almost to death because of who they loved. Others were ridiculed, shunned and marginalized for the color of their skin. Many were abused with words and fists, held back, or overlooked because of their gender. A great darkness indeed, surely something would change.
When do you think those words were written? What time in history? I don’t know about you but I think they could be written at just about anytime throughout history, including today.
December 25 has come and gone and with, the greatest story ever told is probably already boxed back up with the decorations and ready to go back down stairs, in the closet or up in the attic.
Today, I to ask you to wait, just a little longer. I ask you to keep one thing out this year...and here’s why. Because we still need the message of the greatest story ever told. We still need the hope, joy and promise that comes with the telling and living of the story.
There is still a great darkness in the world for a lot of people. I am not talking about “out there” or “over there” in the world. I am talking about right here, in this room, in our community, and yes, in our beloved “land of the free and home of the brave.”
While we think of Christmas as a season of light, the truth is, the birth story of Jesus Christ is filled with darkness. Anticipating the birth of the Christ child centuries before Mary was great with child, Isaiah writes that the light that was coming into the world, came to a people shrouded in darkness (9:1-7). Gloom, anguish, and contempt were just some of the adjectives used to describe this darkness.
In order understand the full revelation of the light which came into the world when Christ was born, we need to recognize the darkness into which our Christ was born.
Political unrest. Government power struggles. Hunger for status and control. Poor decisions that impact the lives of the poorest among people. Senseless violence. Division. Brutality. It may sound like our world today, but this is the darkness that surrounded the birth of Jesus.
When we consider that Christ came into such darkness in order to bring light, the truth is staggering, breathtaking, and beautiful. For we all face seasons of darkness, and God in the flesh knows exactly what that looks like and feels like.
In the church year, the Epiphany season is when we remember a time when we walked in darkness, or tried to find our way through the shadowy places of life. We remember that there are still corners of our world today that walk in social, economical and political darkness; that our world today deals with spiritual darkness. Epiphany is the time we remember that it is in that darkness - the darkness of: cancer, addiction, tragedy, illness, childhood disease, senseless violence...Divine Light still shines. God’s goodness and glory are brought forth in Jesus; his actions, teachings, miracles, and most of all his love.
This is the season to celebrate that God’s love is love enough for all. That is what the story of the Magi is about; perceived outsiders coming to the new King, NOT just to find him but to worship him; to recognize his authority and call him King. God’s love is love enough for all. The insiders, the outsiders, the uptowners and downtowners, residents and immigrants, foreign and domestic.
The light of God’s love shines in the midst of our darkness - sometimes it is but a faint spark or flicker. Sometimes it is so bright hurts our eyes, or catches us by surprise. And sometimes it even reveals more than we want to see - calls us to see what is hard, demanding, scary about following Jesus.
Yet it is in this epiphany light and by this epiphany light we follow Jesus. The light of Epiphany brings to the surface questions like:
- What areas of your life need more God light?
- How can we be vessels of light - reflectors of light? Lighting the path for others - shining hope for the hopeless - showering grace to others?
- What is it God is asking you to bring into the light of love?
- What events can become epiphany moments; light switches of God’s movement and presence for you?
- How will you walk this journey of faith differently not just because you sang happy birthday to Jesus a few days ago, but because God seeks to manifest God’s love in our lives every single day?
Dear church, let us walk in the way of light, for our light has come and the dark will not overcome it. AMEN.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine