Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Messengers of Light

Imagine--if you can--standing in the darkness on a lonely beach early one summer morning, the waves constantly crashing on the shore, with the familiar sound that is both soothing and strange.  As you stand on that sandy beach, you can feel the cool ocean breeze sweeping across your face and through your hair.  As you look out into the darkness of the ocean, staring at the churning water, suddenly a small sliver of orange light meets your eyes on the horizon.  You stare at the orange intently realizing that the sun is beginning to rise in the morning sky. 

As you keep your eyes on the horizon, little by little that orange glow creeps up higher and  higher until suddenly the entire sky seems to be lighted up with the orange and yellow and purple hues of  the morning.  As you look at your surroundings, everything looks different to you.  Where there had only been darkness, you can now see fishing boats on the ocean waves and people moving about on the shore.  The light that illumined the sky had made plain what was hidden.  The morning light had revealed what had been present all the time.

That was the experience our family had when we camped on the beach at the Outer Banks in North Carolina in 1983.  We woke up early purposely to see the sunrise and we joined many others who had done the same.  People actually cheered and clapped and shouted when the sun began to rise over the ocean.  The beautiful sight of the light brightening the sky enthused people as if they were seeing it for the first time.

John the Baptizer stood on the banks of the Jordan River and preached to those who would listen and urged them to repent and be baptized.  John the Gospel Writer spoke of him as the one who was testifying to the light that was coming into the world.  The true light was coming--the world had been waiting for the light to come for countless generations and now the time had come when the promise had been fulfilled. 

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," spoke the prophet Isaiah, "those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them the light has shined."  But he did not stop at just saying that the light was coming.  He also spoke to those who would receive the light.  "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."  Go and shine the light on others, he meant, so that others too could receive the light of the Lord.

This is the season of light.  This is the season that we share the light with others in our world so that they too can rejoice in the birth of the child who brought light into a world of darkness.  Tell the good news to all you know so that they too will experience the light of the Christ. 

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