dec. 16 - shine

dec. 16 shine-01.jpg

by Rev. Tracy Hunter, Broadway and Reeves UMCs Orlando, FL

First, read Isaiah 9:2

A grandmother took her young grandson to church. He was amazed by the very bright and colorful stained glass windows. Grandma explained all of the pictures on the windows. After she’d finished, he asked, “Who are those people on those windows?” Grandma replied, “Those are the saints.” 

When the child returned home, his Dad asked about his visit to the church. The boy told his dad about the stained glass windows with all the people on them. He explained to his dad the people on the window were the saints. Of course, his dad asked, “How do you know they are saints?” The boy responded, “Because the light shines through them!”

Today’s Bible reading is in the Old Testament and comes from a time when the people of God were having a hard time. Isaiah was speaking to people who felt beaten up and beaten down. They were afraid of what was going to happen to them. They felt like they were living in darkness -- they couldn’t see their way forward into a future filled with hope. Isaiah announces that a light is shining in this darkness and on God’s people. God sees them and wants them to know that God still loves them.

Are you afraid of the dark? Sometimes I hear a noise at night and I wake up. I can’t see in the dark, and sometimes I feel afraid. I listen to the different noises, and I think of a bunch of scary things. After a few minutes, I get up and turn on a light. And guess which light I turn on? The overhear light? The bathroom light? The night on my bedside table? No, I don’t turn on any of those. I turn on a little nightlight that’s plugged into the wall. It only takes a little light to make the darkness go away. I am not afraid anymore, because I have seen a great light. And my nightlight just happens to be in the shape of sheep which reminds me that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. God loves me and takes care of me. 

When we love God and follow Jesus, we are filled with the same light that Isaiah promised -- the light of God’s love. We are the people of God sent by God into the world to shine in dark places so that others that might know that God loves them. I learned a song a long time ago that reminds me of the saints on stained glass windows and that you don’t have to be a big light to shine bright.

“This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.  
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

All around the neighborhood, I'm going to let it shine.
All around the neighborhood, I'm going to let it shine.
All around the neighborhood, I'm going to let it shine. 
Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.”

I hope you’ll join me, and shine, shine, shine!

God of Light, thank you so much for your Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World. Sometimes we find ourselves in dark places, and we feel afraid. Shine the light of your love in the darkest of places. Let your light shine through us so that we might show others your love. Help us let our little lights shine everywhere we go. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen. 

About this time, the light of Christmas begins to shine right though the darkness. As the days go by, our hearts and our minds seem to shine a bit brighter as we near the special day. Some say it is “Christmas magic.” As the faithful, we know it is little sparkles of God’s kingdom shining into the darkness of everyday and making the world as God wants it to be.

We “people of the light” are not only called to celebrate this light. We’re also called to do all we can to shine light through our words as well as our actions. The tradition of luminaries is a great example of the light shining through the darkness which we read about in Isaiah 9:2. In preparation for Christmas Eve, neighborhoods and churches fill paper bags with sand and candles and light up their walkways and driveways. An old Spanish tradition, luminaries symbolize Mary and Joseph’s journey for lodging and mark the way for people to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

Though it is not yet Christmas Eve, spend the evening preparing luminaries for your home or your church. Pour a bit of sand into paper bags and place a candle inside. With the busyness of Christmas Eve, you’ll appreciate that this chore is done! What other ways can you shine the light of Jesus into the darkness?