“Bring the Light of Christ to Others”
In our world today, we are on daylight savings time and spring has come. For me, the increased light has brightened my world and given me hope. The long, isolating winter full of fears and darkness has given way to the sunshine, flowers, and greenery of spring. My hope of renewal and restoration of a dangerous world has returned.
The writers in the New Testament used the imagery of light and darkness to help us feel and understand the events that happen. I want to look at that progression of light through this Easter time.
When the Gospel writers record the Crucifixion for us, they tell us that “At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours.” The tragic event of Jesus’ death caused the world to go dark for three hours.
That evening, when Jesus is laid in the cold, dark, silent tomb, I was thinking that it could be a good place for him to heal. Respite from the noise of the trial, the crowds, the soldiers. Removal from being beaten, mocked, pierced and bleeding. Restoration from the heat of the day. In the tomb, he may have welcomed the cold, quiet and dark as a place to rest and recover. Sometimes stillness and dark are healing and we may need the darkness to appreciate the light. I envision his body being restored and his energy returning as he is touched by the healing hand of his Father…no longer forsaken. As he heals, he is restored to being the Light of the World. He begins to shine and the energy of the light begins to burn brighter and brighter in the cave until it can no longer be contained and pushes the stone away. His light bursts forth and he is resurrected.
John tells us that Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb on Sunday morning “while it was still dark”. She is grieving and then becomes confused by what she does not find. She stumbles in the garden, meets Jesus but does not recognize him. He speaks her name and suddenly her mind is enlightened. She knows who he is…just as the light of dawn is breaking.
Mary runs to tell Peter and John. In the song “He’s Alive” that Matthew shared so beautifully with us on Easter, Peter is hiding in the dark, fearful, and guilty about his behavior during Jesus’ trial. In the words of the song, “suddenly…Light that came from everywhere/Drove the shadows from the room, Then Jesus stood before me/ And as I looked into His eyes/ The love was shining out from Him/ Like sunlight from the skies”. Jesus brings full light, hope, renewal, and forgiveness to a darkened soul.
Later that evening when it is dark, the disciples are meeting secretly in a locked room, fearing for their lives. Jesus slips in through the locked door saying “Peace be with you.” He shows them his wounded hands and side and they recognize him. He truly is alive and has returned to them. John tells us “The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” Jesus brings great joy, light, and courage to the disciples by appearing to them and breathing the Holy Spirit onto them.
Thomas, who was away at that time, refused to believe the others unless he saw proof. Without rebuking his unbelief, Jesus comes back the following Sunday, again through the locked door. He tells Thomas to touch his hands and his side. Through the light of recognition and proof, Thomas is now able to believe and proclaims “My Lord and my God!” Jesus then pronounces a blessing on us when he says “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” The light of Christ continues to shine for our lives too. “I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.”
In the Epistle reading for today, John tells us: We are so excited to tell you that Jesus is really risen! We were there. We lived with him. We saw him crucified. We saw him die. We saw him placed in the tomb. When we went to look for him in the morning, he was gone. But that night, he came to see us through a locked door. He let us touch the wounds in his hands and his side. He ate with us. He spoke with us. He blessed us with the Holy Spirit. We are not afraid anymore. We are out announcing that “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” There is no sin or falseness in God, he is pure light. We need to live our lives in that light, avoiding sin. Knowing we are not perfect, God will forgive us. We need to admit our faults, then Jesus’ sacrifice will allow us to be restored to light and wholeness. Jesus will advocate for us. God promised this and he is true to his word.
We have come through a year of darkness, fear, and distress much like this difficult time for the disciples. Some of us may have doubted our faith in God as the pandemic grew despite our prayers and petitions. Many of us have lost people we loved. Yes, they are “in a better place” but the heartache remains for those of us left behind. We have not been able to worship and enjoy fellowship as we had. We feel lonely and sad. How can we bring light to our lives… and the lives of others? A friend suggested that we can think of ourselves as extension cords. When you can’t use the lamp for light because the cord won’t reach, what do you do? Add an extension cord. The cord doesn’t produce the light but it does bridge the gap to allow the light to shine. In the same way, we are not God but we can extend his light to others. We can be the extension cords that bring light to the people in our dark corner of the world.
We don’t have to find a cure for covid or run a soup kitchen. Simple things make a big difference. A friend I hadn’t spoken to in a long time called the other day. Our calls usually last awhile. I was busy and wasn’t going to pick up. Fortunately, I did. She had news to tell me and I ended up enjoying the call and the reconnecting. We brought light to each other through that call.
You can reach out to your friends, people you haven’t seen in awhile and those who are alone. Send a simple card, text, email, call on the phone or Zoom together. Contribute to food and clothing drives for those who have lost jobs during the pandemic. Lend an ear to those who are discouraged or feeling isolated. Keep praying. Walk in the sunshine and say hello to your neighbors.
In the reading from Acts, the disciples’ lives were dramatically changed by the resurrection. They “were of one heart and soul”, they only owned things in common, they were eyewitnesses and “gave their powerful testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus”, they made sure no one was in need, those who were able sold what they had for the common good. Now, I am not asking anyone to sell their home and donate the money to the church. I am, however, asking us to think about how the joyous news of Jesus’ resurrection has changed your life. What is Jesus asking us as disciples to do? How can we care for those in need? What difference does the resurrection make in our lives?
We have seen how generous and caring our parish can be. We need to keep it going, having faith that God is still in charge, knows what we are dealing with and he will bring us through it… changed perhaps but renewed and in his light. Look to the resurrection as the light to guide us. Be the extension cord that brings that light to others.
Let us be thankful to God for the Light of Christ in our life, the return of spring and our faith in his healing powers. Amen.
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
1 John 1:1-2:2
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.