1/14/07, Epiphany 2-C

“Light from Light”
Psalm 36:5-10, NRSV

5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. 7 How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. 9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. 10 Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.

ight was critical to life back in Bible Days. The only night light they had was from candles, oil lamps or open fires. Keeping some small light burning was a routine task every night. Light seen at night was a sure sign that humans were keeping their watch. As a Boy Scout I learned to keep a fire at night. Of course we all learned to be prepared if the fire went out by keeping our battery powered flashlight attached to our belt. I still keep a trusty flashlight next to our bed every night: Just in case I wake up and the electricity has gone off. Don't we all carry flashlights in our cars in case we have an emergency on a dark country road at night? Television screens and computer monitors are another source of light, entertainment and of learning. When we think of it artificial light is important to all of us.   

Spiritual light is the main symbol of God’s presence in both the Old and New Testaments. God’s Spiritual Light came to enlighten us in the midst of a world of spiritual darkness. God’s Light in our hearts is also associated with God’s “Inner Light,” or the comforting nearness, and assurance of our Heavenly Father.

One of the corny jokes told around churches is, “Where was Moses when the lights went out?” The bunt of the joke would guess, “In the Tabernacle, or in the bed.” And the punch line is, “In the dark!”

Several asked during our pre-Christmas “Walk Through Bethlehem” Nativity Scene and Re-Building of the Old City, “Why are all of the electric lights turned off? Or, “What is the purpose of the candle lighting, torches and spot lights, with other normal lights around the church turned off?” Several thousand visitors stumbled around our church in relative darkness to emphasize the Spiritual Light that the Babe of Bethlehem brought as He became, “Jesus, the Light of the World.” Every time we worship in the Sanctuary we have candles burning bright on our Altar Sunday as a reminder that Jesus Himself is present in our worship, and through Him we are sometimes called, “The People of Light.”

To know Jesus is to allow Him to light up your life. We do not just want to know about the Light, we want to have His Light burning in our hearts. It is how we most often describe our personal relationship with Him.

One of the best things that anyone can say about us is that we seem to be “enlightened.” Indeed, the great intellectual Enlightenment that swept across Europe and North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was precipitated by Christian people who were hungry for more and more knowledge. The light of our founder John Wesley, an Oxford Don, and supporter of logic, led American Methodism to found hundreds of colleges, regional universities and world class universities, such as Emory, Duke and SMU. We attempt to be a thinking people and avoid narrow and provincial views.

In our text today from Psalm 36 we hear the expression that light has come to us from the Divine Light: “Light from Light.”  (v.9)  In the New Testament John the Baptist spoke of the coming Messiah as the light that would enlighten everyone. (John 1:4) And Jesus spoke of himself as the light of the world. (Jn. 3: 19-32) Matthew records that Jesus called his followers the light of the world and warned them not to lose their inner light. (Mt. 5:14-16)  And in our modern world, candles still burn on Christian Altars as a symbol of God’s presence. We can say that our personal light, and the light of the Church Ecumenical has received “Light from Light.”

What are we do with this wonderful spiritual light? Obviously we are to “let our light shine.” Light put under a basket does not shine, but we are to hold our light high so that others will see Jesus shining in us.

Also, we are to proclaim the Light of Salvation that is available to everybody. We receive folks into the Family of Believers with great joy, for God has called us to share the light.

Our Light also calls us to make the world a better place. Just like Sunlight kills bacteria and dries up refuge and at the same time causes crops to grow and feed the world. Similarly, Christ’s Light is the sustainer of the Christian life.

Within the Church Family we are all one body: “red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the “Light.”  

Today is “Human Relations Day” in United Methodist Churches, and in other denominations. Tomorrow we honor the life of fellow Atlantan, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is hard to imagine what shape the world would be in now if it were not for his message. He shed new light that had been needed for centuries. He changed the world of human relationships by preaching, teaching and by letting his light shine. Our calling is to let our light shine before the world so that they may see Christ’s Light through even us. “This little Light of ours we're goanna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
1/14/07, Epiphany 2-C