Saturday, February 4, 2017

5 Epiphany Yr A Feb 5 2017



5 Epiphany Yr A Feb 5 2017 Audio

Jesus' sermon on the mount continues with you are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world. You are the light that shines in the darkness. This is an amazing gift as well as an amazing promise. Not only is God in our midst, God in the flesh, the light in the world, but that light, God in the flesh, God in our midst, is in us, shines through us, and as we bear that light into the world, darkness cannot overcome. That's not nothing, that's something. God's love, the love that wins, gets communicated to the world through you. Martin Luther King Jr. said "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."  And, something more, you are the light of the world, that is who you are, you are a child of God. This is not about what you must do, it is about who you are, you can't help but be the light and drive out darkness.

Well, with that Good News, how does the love of God get communicated in the world through you? You are commissioned to be God's light in the world. As I use communicate in this context, I mean the fullness of that word, not just words. Some of the synonyms of communicate are connect, interface, make known, network, and relate. For me the ultimate meaning of communicate is in communion, "be known to us Lord Jesus, in the breaking of the bread." God's love gets communicated in the world through you and the light that you bear. What does that look like?

These words lead me to picture God's communication through you as a light in the world like a web of relationship. You shine in your workplace, and God is present. You shine in your school, and God is present. You light up the darkness, and God's love is communicated. But that seems all rather ethereal, right? What does it really look like?

The theme of light shining in the darkness is a universal human theme, we all know that from scripture, from Genesis and from John and from Isaiah. And we may get some direction from popular culture. The epic stories of our time show us how light shines in the darkness, and the best of those show us how that light is multiplied in community.

In Madeleine L'engle's book, A Wrinkle in Time, our main characters travel through a wrinkle in time to the dark planet of Camazotz which is entirely dominated by the Black Thing. The father of our main character, Meg, is trapped on this planet, after a time Meg is able to free her father, but only after finding her own strengths, her own giftedness, her own light, and engaging in the web of relationship that is community. In the Harry Potter stories, the power of light in the darkness is a dominant theme. Dumbledore even says, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” And then he goes on to say, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." Again, the light in these stories is found in the web of relationships among Harry and his friends. I could go on and on and bore you completely with these references, stories I hold dear, but instead I'd love to hear about your own understanding of the light shining in the darkness in the places you go for meaning.

The question is, what does it look like for you to be God's light in the world? What does it look like for your light to be the only light shining, what does it look like for your light to join with and be joined with others to create a brighter light? Again, it is not what we do, but who we are, God's beloved, that shines. But for others to see the light, sometimes it is what we do. So many of you are lights in the world. Your light shines when you give a compassionate word at work, your light shines when you give an encouraging word at the check out counter at the store, your light shines when you shovel your neighbors walk. These light shining moments are so important. And your light, your voice, your words matter in a world that seems to have left compassion and justice behind. You are indeed, a light in the building of the kingdom. But what about when we join our lights in the web of relationship, when we join our lights in a community of light?

When we do that, when lights shine on the darkness of the injustice of racism, when lights shine on the darkness of the disregard for human dignity, when lights shine on the darkness of the lack of access to health care, we begin to see the building of God's kingdom. During this month that is designated Black History, we are reminded of the witness of this kind of light, in the persons and the web of community of the people who sat on buses and wouldn't give up their seats; the people who sat at lunch counters and endured the indignity of insults and attacks; the people who knocked on doors to register others to vote; the people who worked day in and day out at their jobs, so they might provide education for their children.

This sermon on the mount, this gospel, matters in our world today. It is almost as if it was delivered for times such as these. Shine your light, stand up for what is right. Claim God's healing love for you and for all creation. Pay attention to what God is doing. Believe that you are loved.
God's love is what brings us back together, puts the fragments of our lives back together. It is God's love, borne by your light, that can bring healing and wholeness to our broken world. Indeed, it is God's mission to heal our world, and it is our mission to be a part of that healing. It is God's love, carried on the light of compassion, that we must show forth.

We are called to follow Jesus. Following Jesus implies learning about who Jesus is so that we may follow. Following Jesus implies walking a journey in partnership with others. Following Jesus implies activity. Do justice, love kindness, and walk intentionally with God. Look for Jesus in the blesseds that are hard to see. You are the salt, you are the light. Following Jesus is to carry God's love into the world and change it, change the world. Be the light that shines on injustice, be the light that shines on oppression, be the light that shines, and reveals compassion, kindness, and mercy. Amen.

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