REMEMBERING OUR JOURNEY: When We Came to Be

 

"Birth of Christ", Robert Campin, c. 1425-1430

Scripture Text:  Luke 2: 1-7

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

“In those days, a decree went out.”…There it is!  It is probably the best known story of all time and a great story it is–forced occupation, poor couple, long trip, impressive ancestry,  a last-minute birth, animals, humble beginnings, angels, assurance, surprise visitors, well-trained angelic choir, and God.  (You know, in hindsight, if there had been a coach and a glass slipper, this would have been perfect!)  But, seriously, think about it.  This story has gripped the world for more than twenty centuries.  Jesus of Nazareth was born a human gift to this world, born the way we were all born.  No, the Scripture doesn’t speak of morning sickness and labor pains.  In fact, in our haste to welcome the Christ child into our lives each Christmas Eve, we forget the humanness of the birth.  We forget that he first appeared in the dim lights of that grotto drenched with the waters of Creation, with the smell of God still in his breath.  We forget that Mary was in tears most of the night as she tried to be strong, entering a realm she had never entered, questioning what the angel nine months before had really convinced her to do.  We often sort of over-romanticize it, forgetting that Jesus was human.

But that night, that silent night, was the night when the Word came forth, Incarnate.  In its simplest form, the Incarnation is the mingling of God with humanity, the mingling of God with us.  It is God becoming human and, in turn, giving humanity a part of the Divine.  It is the mystery of life that always was coming into all life yet to be.  This night, this silent night, was the night that we came to be.  In this moment, Humanity and the Divine are somehow suspended together, neither moving forward, both dancing together in this grotto.  This is the night for which the world had waited.

God has come, sought us out.  Eons of God inviting us and claiming us and drawing us in did not do it.  So God came, came to show us the sacredness that had been created for us, the holy in the ordinary that we kept missing.  God has traversed time and space and the barrier between us and the Divine and as God comes across the line, the line disappears.  God is now with us.  We just have to open our eyes.  And then, the walk began, a walk that is passing through Galilee and, soon, Jerusalem and Golgotha.  And at each point, God asks us to dance again.  And we will never be the same again.  This notion of “Emmanuel”, God With Us, means that all of history has changed.  It means that we have changed.  Lest we over-romanticize that night as one of beauty and candlelight and “Silent Night”, that night was the night we came to be.  We have passed through to another time with our feet still firmly planted here.  God is not asking us to be Divine.  We are not called to be God.  God is asking us to be who God created us to be and came to walk with us to show us what it meant to be human, to be made, not into God, but in the very image of the Divine.

Tradition tells us that the birth happened just a few miles from Jerusalem.  We think of it as another world.  We think of it in the silence without remembering that God came into the midst of a world that is filled with pain and darkness, filled with danger and injustice, filled with the stench of death.  We forget that Jesus was born just a short distance way from a place that is called Golgotha with a waiting cross.  But God still came.  God always comes.  God came to show us Light in the darkness and Life in the midst of death.  God came to show us how to be.  Our journey that we are on now is not separate from that night.  That night was the night it began, the night that God, even in the face of the madness of this world, poured the Sacred and the Divine into our lives.  We were changed forever.  And we can’t separate our past from who we are now.  We can’t help but carry the manger with us on this journey and try our best to make room.  It is part of us.  It is part of when we came to be.  It is what sent us on this journey, the journey that leads us to Jerusalem.

We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us.  We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us.  The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

On this day in this Lenten journey, remember when you came to be.  What do you remember about knowing what that means?

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

REMEMBERING OUR JOURNEY: When Things Began to Change

 

Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel

Scripture Text:  Luke 1: 30a-38

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Think back.  Think back to that time when things began to change.  Think back to the announcement.  Think back to the point where our world as we know it was rocked to its foundations as God revealed the very Godself to us, bursting into our world, the world that we thought was the one.  For us, it began the mystery that is Jesus Christ, the mystery that brought us here, the mystery that will take us to Jerusalem.  But in this moment we remember, the fog lifted and there before us was the bridge between the human and the Divine.  This IS the beginning of Jesus Christ.  We often sort of skip over that sometimes, choosing not to get much beyond that night of mangers and stars and visiting field hands.  Think about it.  Jesus was fully human and this human Jesus, like all of us, had to be grown and nurtured in the womb before the miracles started.  March 25th (that would be nine months before Christmas) is celebrated as The Feast of the Annunciation, the veritable turning point of all human history.  It is was in this moment that God stepped through the fog into humanity and, just like every human before and every human since, must wait to be fully birthed into this world.  So, let it be…

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1: 1-3)

And in some traditions, March 25th is regarded as the first day of Creation.  (Now, really, I don’t even begin to see THAT as a real date!  But it’s a good thing to remember and that date is as good as any, right?)  So, let’s go with it.  March 25th marks the beginning, when God’s Spirit moved across the face of the waters bringing Light into the Darkness.  So the Annunciation…the announcement of the coming of Christ, the coming of God, into our little world…is that day when once again the darkness begins to fill with Light.  So, begin at the beginning and count forward…to the birth of God into the world. Like Creation, the coming of Christ was the Light pushing the darkness away.  It was when things began to change.  The world was with child.

So on this first day of the week leading up to the entrance into Jerusalem, we realize how close we really are, realize that, once again, things are about to change.  It is scary as the ground beneath us begins to shift and the shadows around us begin to move about.  But think about that moment when things began to change.  Can you imagine what Mary must have thought?  She was young, she had plans, she had her whole life ahead of her.  “How can this be?” we read.  In today’s vernacular, it would read, “Are you kidding me?  I had my whole life planned.  It was safe.  It was known.  It was figured out.”  And, if only for a moment, God and the world waited expectantly in the silence.  And so as everything she knew and everything she planned toppled around her, she said “yes” and entered the mystery of God.  And we, those who would follow, those who come into this sometimes maddening, always-changing world, those who are tempted to play it safe and planned, will also say yes.  And in that moment, once again, God’s Spirit will sweep over the face of the waters and bring Light into the darkness.

Hope holds with it the promise that God always answers our questions by showing up, not necessarily with what we ask for but with remarkable gifts that change our lives and the world.   (Mary Lou Redding)

So as things begin to change, envision Light, envision the Light as it moves into the darkness.  What does it mean to follow?  What does it mean to say “yes” when the world is rocking on its foundations?

unfiltered-light

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

 

 

Psalm 130: A Season of Waiting for Morning

First LightToday’s Psalter:  Psalm 130 (Lent 5A)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!  If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.  O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.  It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

The Psalmist writes from the deepest bowels of life.  It is his or her lowest point, feeling so overwhelmed with despair, almost hopeless.  And yet, there, is the sound of the still small voice.  It’s only a whisper but it is there.  The Psalmist strains to hear, laying there in the darkness, unable to sleep, unable to see the light of the morning.  It is a Psalm of faith.  It is the expression of one who though wallowing in the depths of sadness and despair, cannot feel God’s Presence and, yet, knows in the deepest part of his or her being that God is there.  It is the writing of one who knows that there is always morning, if we will only wait.

The words of the Psalm promise us that no matter how dark the night will be, there is always morning.  There is always redemption.  The King James Version depicts it as “plenteous redemption”.  We often hear of redemption as if it is some sort of payment that God required for our sins, as if Jesus’ death was somehow foreordained because we were such sinful creatures that God could take it no more.  But redemption also means restoration, to bring something to a better state.  It is what the Psalmist knows.  God is there, though unseen, restoring, recreating, even in this moment of darkness.  Redemption is not about payment; it is about the promise of morning, the promise of life.  Redemption is not about what Jesus gave us or what Jesus did for us but what God in Christ does even now.  God brings morning.

The Psalm does not give us empty promises that “everything will be alright”.  Rather, it is honest.  Sometimes life hurts.  Sometimes life hurts more than we think we can bear.  Sometimes we have our own dark night of the soul.  But in the darkness, we learn to wait.  We learn to hope.  That is what Lent is–a waiting in the depths.  We are journeying now deeper and deeper into the darkness.  We know that it will be painful, at times even unbearable.  But our faith tells us that God is present whether or not we can feel the presence.  And so we learn to wait.  We wait through pain and betrayal and last nights together.  We wait through darkness and death.  We wait in the stillness and foreboding silence.  We wait because we know that morning always comes.

Bidden or unbidden, God is present.  (Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Also attributed to Carl Jung, because the quote was posted above his door in his house in Switzerland.)

“Out of the Depths”, John Rutter, “Requiem”

On this 5th Sunday of Lent, claim your own depths.  Imagine what your own recreation looks like.

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

I have posted a reflection on the Stations of the Cross as a “page” on the blog.  If you go to dancingtogod.com and click on it at the top, you can view it.

 

Psalm 23: A Season of Shadows

ShadowsPsalter for Today:  Psalm 23 (Lent 4A) (KJV) 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

(Yes, I used KJV because, according to my Grandmother, you cannot read Psalm 23 in any other version…)

Lent is a season of shadows.  During this time we walk through the shadow of the Cross, the shadow of death, and, even, the shadow of our former selves.  Maybe that’s the point of Lent–to wrestle us away from our comfortable, perfectly-manicured lives, from all those things that we plan and perceive, from all those things that we hide and, finally, teach us to traverse the nuances that the journey holds.  And yet, think about it.  What exactly creates shadows?  The answer is light.  Light must be behind the shadowed object.  So, the shadow of the Cross, the shadow of death, even the shadow of our former selves cannot be without the Light.

This season of Lent is one that by its very nature is a journey through wilderness, through loss and despair and doubt and not really knowing what comes next. It is a journey through a place where all of a sudden God is not as God should be. No longer is God a freshly cleaned-up deity handing out three cotton candy wishes to faithful followers. In the wilderness, we find God in the trenches and in the silence of our lives. Or maybe it is that that is the place that we finally notice God at all. When our lives are emptied out, when our needs and our deepest emotions are exposed, is the time that a lot of us realize that God was there all along. Maybe Lent is way of getting to the depths of ourselves, the place where in our search for God, we find our faith in God, and there in the silence we find our hope.

In her book, When God is Silent, Barbara Brown Taylor tells “a story from the Sufi tradition about a man who cried, “Allah! Allah!” until his lips became sweet with the sound. A skeptic who heard him said, “Well! I have heard you calling out but where is the answer to your prayer? Have you ever gotten a response?” The man had no answer to that. Sadly, he abandoned his prayers and went to sleep. In his dreams, he saw his soul guide, walking toward him through a garden. “Why did you stop praising?” the saint asked him. “Because I never heard anything back,” the man said. “This longing you voice IS the return message,” the guide told him. The grief you cry out from draws you toward union. Your pure sadness that wants help is the secret cup.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those people that think that God sends us suffering or heartache or grief to make us stronger or to test our faith or just to prove something. I don’t think I’d have a lot of respect for a God that has so little compassion for those who love God so much. God is always there, listening and guiding, and wanting us to get a sense of the holy and the sacred to which we’ve been called. But the point is that those times when life is not that great, when we struggle in the very depths of our being, are the times when God reaches through our waiting and our struggles and we can finally hear the silence that is God. We experience the biggest part of God when our need is the greatest.

Now I know that this Psalm brings about different thoughts and memories for each of us—some wonderful, some painful, some bittersweet. It’s probably one of those few passages that you can actually recite all the way through. It goes beyond the words, beyond the rhythm, beyond the hearing. It is truly beloved. It is a glimpse of the holy and the sacred.

My own standout experience with it happened several years ago. I was in seminary with little or no worship experience. I went to the funeral of one of my great aunts. And then, after the perfunctory family lunch (with our rather large family) and the funeral, we began to make our way to the cemetery for the burial. It was just a short drive. As we arrived, one of the ministers came up to me and asked me if I would like to read the Scripture at the graveside. Well, I have to tell you, when you’re in seminary, have little or no worship experience, and must now do this in front of your entire rather large family, many of whom are thinking it’s odd or wrong or at the very least just sort of cute that this woman is going to seminary to become a pastor, it’s a little overwhelming. I opened the funeral handbook (yes, there’s a funeral handbook! Perhaps we’re not as smart as you think!). And there, there it was…this wonderful Psalm. I would read that. But I did not choose it because I had opened to it; I did not choose it because it was familiar to me and I knew that there weren’t any hard words. I chose it because I knew that my grandmother, though nearly deaf, could hear it.  As I began to read, there was a stillness that settled over the crowd. The Spring wind that had been blowing all day stopped and all I heard was the faint sound of some wind chimes near the cemetery entrance. And I heard my voice but it didn’t sound like it was coming from me. As we got into the car to go, my grandmother whispered to me, “I heard you.” Don’t think it was a miracle; she didn’t hear a word I said. But it was part of her.   She had repeated it for 92 or 93 years at that point. She no longer needed to listen to the words. She could hear them anyway.

Several years later, I stood in another cemetery beside my grandmother’s casket, reading these words again.  This time I had graduated from seminary and had a little experience in worship. But don’t get me wrong…there was also my entire rather large family, many of whom are thinking it’s odd or wrong or at the very least just sort of cute that this woman has become a pastor. At the cemetery, I read the Scripture. I chose the same Psalm, not because my grandmother could hear it, but because I could.  (I will say that my grandmother always insisted that this Psalm could ONLY be read in the King James Version, so let that be a lesson too!)

Life is filled with shadows, places that you did not plan to go, places that scare you and challenge you, places that are filled with pain.  But God did not call us to walk through blinding Light.  God called us to learn to see.  Maybe the shadows help us do that.  Maybe the shadows are the reason we see the Light.

Blessed are the ears which hear God’s whisper and listen not to the murmurs of the world. (Thomas A’Kempis)

On this fourth Sunday of the Lenten season, look into the shadows.  Live with them.  Let them lead you to the Light.

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

 

 

 

 

 


Seeing What is Hidden From View

 

The Wizard of Oz (Revealed)

Scripture Passage:  John 9: 1-12 (13-41) (Lent 4A)

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.  The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

Go and wash.  It sounds so simple.  So there must be something fishy about it, right?  Inherently, we are just distrusting creatures, are we not? It’s interesting that the first thing that people address here is sin. The man has been apparently blind from birth and their first thought is sin? Did he commit the sin? What an odd question! Was he supposed to have committed some sin in the womb that was apparently terrible enough to blind him for life? Or did his parents sin? It’s an odd line of questioning to us. They see a man that has missed out on so much of what life holds, that has never seen what you and I take for granted every day, and they immediately want to know what he did wrong or what his parents did wrong to deserve that.  (Ok, now don’t get too self-righteous about our own reaction.  We do the same thing.  I mean, what went wrong in that person’s life?  It must have been SOMEONE’S fault.)

But Jesus doesn’t see a sinner; Jesus doesn’t even see a blind man; Jesus sees a child of God. And so he reaches down into the cool dirt and picks up a piece of the earth. He then spits into his hand and lovingly works the concoction into a sort of paste. And then, it says, he spreads the mud into the man’s eyes and tells him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. And the man’s eyes were opened and he saw what had been always hidden from his view.

We love this story.  But there are so many that ask why we don’t hear accounts of healing such as this.  Maybe it’s because we’re looking for miracles with ordinary eyes, with the eyes of our world that need to explain and extract.  Maybe it’s because we do not see something new.  At the risk of destroying the story for you, does the blindness have to be physical?  It never says that, nor does it say that the blind man was “fixed”‘ or “cured”.  If it wasn’t a physical healing, would that lessen the story?  How miraculous it is for someone to see in a different way, to open one’s vision to what God has envisioned for us.

I couldn’t help (again) but think of the Wizard of Oz.  You see, everyone imagined what they would find–courage, heart, mind, and home–imagined what it would look like, how it would come.  But the curtain was torn back and revealed that the miracle-worker was part of this world.  He was just an ordinary person.  So how could he give them courage, heart, mind, and home?  It had to do with seeing what is hidden from view.

This season of Lent is as much about showing us our blindness, our darkness, as it is about bringing us light. For that is the way we see as God sees. It is a way of seeing anew, seeing beauty we’ve never seen before, seeing the Way of Christ. Rainer Maria Rilke said that “the work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.” That is the work of Lent—to release us from our spiritual blindness, from our old way of seeing, frozen in time, and to light the way for a vision of eternity.  We are called to see that which is hidden from view.  It is the work that allows us to see, finally, what has always been hidden from view.  You see (pun intended), it is time for the heart-work.

There are two ways to live:  you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)

Much of this Lenten journey is about seeing, about seeing through our spiritual blindness, our own often self-imposed darkness.  Now is the time for our heart-work.  What does that look like?  What heals you from your won spiritual blindness?

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

Light Exposure

 

Long-exposure Star Photography, by Lincoln Harrison

Scripture Text:  Ephesians 5: 8-14 (Lent 4A)

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

This passage essentially contends that to “walk in the light” means that we are no longer naïve.  It is not about being happy or “blessed” in terms of how this world sees “blessed”.  The world is illumined by our faith.  We now must own a commitment to justice and compassion for all of Creation.  Light is goodness and justice and truth.  It is not about merely living a moral and righteous life; it is about witnessing to the light that is Christ.  Light and darkness cannot exist together.  As the passage says, light makes all things visible and then all things visible become light.  The Light of Christ makes that on which is shines light itself.  The passage exhorts us to wake up and see the light and then live as children of that light;  in essence, we are called to become light.

I don’t really think of this light of Christ as a bright, blinding spotlight.  It’s really much more nuanced and subtle than that.  Think illuminating, rather than blinding.  Think revealing, rather than overly bright.  And it doesn’t dispel or destroy the darkness but rather illumines it.  It casts a different light, a light that illuminates all.  God, with infinite wisdom, gave us the power and the desire to see through the darkness and glimpse the light shining through, to see the Light that is Christ.  It is a light that is always present regardless of our view, that exposes all that is visible and makes that on which it shines light itself.  There is a Maori proverb that says “turn your face to the [light] and the shadows will fall behind you.”  They are not consumed; they are still there, light streaming into their midst.  Shadows do not exist without light.  Light is what makes them visible.  We are like that.  Exposed by the Light of Christ, we become visible; and by becoming visible, we become light, children of light, images of the Light that is Christ, the Light that is God.

Light exposure changes the thing that is exposed.  When something is exposed to light, it takes on some of those light particles.  Colors lighten and change.  We are no different.  Faith is about light exposure.  When exposed to the Light that is God, we change.  We take on part of that Light.  We become a ray of that Light, a light that becomes visible to all.  We are not meant to live in darkness.  We are created to be children of Light.  We are created to be changed.  There is still darkness.  There are still injustices and prejudices and suffering and pain.  There are still parts of the world begging for Light.  That is where we come in, those who have been exposed, forever changed, and who can do nothing else but shine forth.
I cannot create the light. The best I can do is put myself in the path of its beam. (Annie Dillard)
On this Lenten journey, there is darkness all around.  Go and be Light.  Be that to which you have been exposed.
Grace and Peace,
Shelli

Be Light

Being LightScripture Text:  John 1:6-9

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

 

John again?  John the Baptist, this brash camel’s hair-wearing, locust-eating, wilderness wandered, is back.  But here we are told that John is but a witness to something bigger, there to point to the Light of Christ that is coming.  But what makes John’s message uncomfortable is that he is always pointing to that which the light illumines.  For the writer of the Gospel According to John, the Logos was the true light bursting forth into humanity.  Rather than an angel announcing the birth of a baby, the writer is using John as a witness to point to that light as well as the purpose of that light.  We love the image of light but sometimes we are uncomfortable with full illumination.  I mean, here’s John, running around like a wild man in the wilderness preaching repentance, calling for us to change, and just being really loud.  Our reaction in this season is to respond with:  “John…shhhh!  You’ll wake the baby.”

 

We don’t really want to hear this during this season.  We’d rather hear the tales of a baby being born, of shepherd’s visits, of angel’s callings.  This is just too hard.  This is just too uncomfortable.  The season is just too dark for such a bright light.  So John sort of gets in the way.  And there we can’t help but look at the light.  But, good grief, it’s so bright!  How in the world can we be prepared for THIS?  Well, don’t you remember how you prepare yourself to look at light?  You prepare yourself to look at light by looking at light.  So this Light of Christ, this radiant, fully-illuminating light, has now begun to peek into our lives in the form of a witness by this wild wilderness man.  But the way that John witnessed (if you read on) was by pointing the light away from himself and toward the Light itself.  John became a reflection of the Light.  (Yeah…talking in circles again!  It’s this light thing!)

 

Maybe that’s it.  We are called to bask in the light and then deflect the light toward the light.  We are called to illumine the Light of Christ for the world.  We are called to be light by reflecting the Light.  And the world will never be the same.  You see, the reason that light is so incredibly uncomfortable is that, contrary to what we’d like to conjure up in our heads, this light is not warm and cozy.  It is not a light that merely adds a little needed ambiance to an already-shadowed room.  This light is BRIGHT, UNCOMFORTABLY BRIGHT.  This is the kind of light that shines into the darkest corners and then bends itself around the turn.  This is the kind of light that shines into the shadows that were trying desperately to remain hidden.  This is the kind of light that shows the hidden shadows for what they are.  Darkness cannot exist with this light.  This light casts no shadows.  This Light changes the way we see, changes the way we live.  This Light exposes the world to itself.

 

It is that for which we’ve been waiting.  We’ve been waiting for something to not just light our way but to illumine the darkness.  The darkness will be no more.  The Light will come.  And we, like John, are called to be witnesses to that light, to shine a light toward it.  We are called to be light, the light that shines toward the Light.  And the world will be forever different.  No longer are the shadows able to exist unnoticed.  You see, this light exposes everything for what it is.  This Light makes us realize that poverty and homelessness, violence and war, greed and injustice are not just things that exist.  This Light shines such a light that they become unacceptable, unimaginable, undone.  This is the Light that calls us to see not just a dream of the way we could be, but the notion that we are called to be nothing less.  Here’s the deal.  The baby is already awake, already basking in the Light of the Eternal.  So, we need to wake up, rub the sleep out of our eyes, and be a reflection of that light.  Be Light.

 

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.  (Rabindranath Tagore)

 

FOR TODAY:  Look for the light.  Then reflect it toward the world.  Be light.  Be the Light.

 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli