Rev. George Miller
“True Light, True Love”
Dec 11, 2011
I have news I’d like to share with you. As many of you know, 6 months ago, my cat died unexpectedly of a heart defect. As you can imagine, it threw me into a period of darkness and loneliness.
Death of a beloved animal is hard, especially when living alone, and I’m not the only who lost a pet this year (like Joanne and Elaine). Though it’s not the same as the death of a human, it still involves a period of grief.
Grief is grief, with its own moments of darkness and sorrow, in which joy is unfairly stolen away.
For me it meant packing away his toys, no longer stopping at Petco and coming home to an empty, silent house.
But as of Thursday, there is new life; 2 kittens that I’ve named Sterling and Jesse. Which means that now, the cat toys have come out. Watching them play has brought joy into my house, turning it back into being a home.
Sterling prefers the mouse on a bouncy string, which causes him to do back-flips. Jesse prefers the laser beam, chasing after its tiny dot of light, which is kind of funny, and kind of sad, because it can never be attained.
(As an aside, do you know that Charles Townes, one of the creators of the laser, is a life-long member of the UCC?)
Light plays an important part in the lives of God’s people.
Soon, our Jewish sisters and brothers will celebrate Hanukkah, otherwise known as the Festival of the Lights.
Hanukkah has its roots in a time in which the Temple had been seized by the enemy and the Jews fought back. They won, but in order to resume worship, they had to purify the Temple.
Trouble is, it required burning the menorah for 8 days in which they only had enough oil for one.
In an act of faith, they lit the menorah anyway, and beyond reason, the light burned for not one, not four, but eight days, dispelling the darkness and showing that nothing is impossible for the Lord.
Centuries before, light played a role in the call of Moses. During a time when the people lived under the darkness of slavery, God called to Moses to help set the people free.
The means by which God called Moses: the burning bush. It was through this miracle of light that God spoke to Moses, saying “I have heard the cries of my people and I have come…to deliver them.”
Let’s not forget, the entire Biblical narrative starts with “In the beginning…God said ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light was good…”
Creation, deliverance, victory; light plays an important role, as it does in the majestic introduction to the Gospel of John.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Notice the verb tense of the last sentence. Darkness is referred to in the past tense. But the light; light is stated in the present.
As in now, as in always.
What does it mean to say the light shines? To understand light, we should first have an understanding of dark.
Darkness can represent many things, I’ll suggest three.
Darkness can mean to not know, to be absent of wisdom, to lack facts.
Have you ever been to the hospital or doctor’s office and ask a question in which you get no answer or no one seems to know? It’s like you’re being kept in the dark.
Second, darkness can refer to sin. The things we do that makes us feel separated from God; the things we do that separate us from others; the things we do that separate us from our selves.
Sin can also include the things that others do to us. Sin that breaks down relationships, sin that abuses body and soul, sin that goes against the definition of compassion.
Third, darkness can refer to sadness, the dark clouds that linger over our heads due to feelings of loss, betrayal and loneliness.
All of us carry traces of this darkness wherever we may go, because to be human means to encounter loss and disappointment.
Darkness in the form of uncertainty, sin and sadness are part of all our lives.
But the good news is that darkness does not have power over us, because through it all, there is a light that shines, and that light is the Word, and the Word is Jesus Christ.
Just as God spoke and said “Let there be light”, Jesus Christ is the Word who says “Let there be life!”
And what a life it is!
For if darkness means uncertainty, sin and sadness, then life in Jesus Christ means the exact opposite.
To say that the light shines means that in Jesus Christ wisdom succeeds. In Jesus exists all knowledge and truth, the questions that need to be asked, and the answer to all of our questions.
In Christ our light shines through study and discovery, our minds become open to the ways of God and the possibilities of the Spirit.
To say the light shines means that in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness.
The things we do that we know we should not? We can bring them to our Lord and be relieved of the burden they create.
The moments where we have failed to show compassion or been too afraid to act? We can bring them to the Lord and before we even utter a single word, we are released from the dark grip they have over us.
And because are hearts are illuminated with the Lord’s forgiveness, we are called to share this gift of light with others.
To say the light shines means that as we wonder while we wander, our days are filled with elements of joy.
Joy in knowing that on Christmas day we’ll see Emmanuel in a manger.
Joy in knowing that on Good Friday we’ll see true love demonstrated on the cross.
And joy in knowing that on Easter morn we’ll see that the tomb is empty.
That in Christ, “The Lord has done great things for us” (Psalm 126:3) and joy has a way of bursting through in a multitude of ways, be it family, friends, or even two small kitty cats.
John’s Gospel is a living testimony to the light that we find in Jesus Christ:
the beginning of all wisdom,
the beginning of all forgiveness,
and the beginning of all joy;
Which no amount of darkness can ever put out. Can I get an “Amen”?
Before we end today’s message, a quick little sumthin’ sumthin’ to make you smile.
One day Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God was tired of hearing all the bickering back and forth.
Finally fed up, God said “That’s it! I’ve had enough. I’m going to settle this debate for once and for all.”
“I will set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.”
So Jesus and Satan sat down at their laptops and typed away.
They e-mailed with attachments.
They sent reports,
They created labels and cards.
They downloaded I-Tunes,
They filed income tax reports,
They created charts and graphs.
They did every tech job you can think of!
Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency; Satan worked faster then hell.
10 minutes before time was up; lightening flashed across the sky; thunder rolled, rain came tumbling down, and of course the power went out.
Everything went dark.
Satan stared at the blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.
Jesus just sighed and gave a smile of joy.
Finally, the electricity came back on; each of them restarted their computers.
Satan searched frantically, screaming, “It’s gone! It’s all gone! It’s hopeless! I lost everything when the power went out!”
Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work, that smile of joy never wavering.
This made Satan even more irate. “How can this be? All is lost? This can’t be fair! He cheated. How come he has all his work and I have nothing?”
God shrugged and said:
Yes, kittens are adorable and great to have around; toy lasers can be fun; but they’re elusive, something you can never catch.
If what we are seeking is something attainable, something true, in which light and love illuminates our lives; then it is in Jesus Christ that our joy rests.
Jesus Christ is the Word who always was and always will be. No amount of darkness can ever put out that fact.
And with that, let us say “Hallelujah!” and let’s all say “Amen.”