Anyway, this particular tape was recorded not long after Christmas that year, and in it my dad asks me to tell what happened on Christmas. Like most 3 or 4 year olds, I begin with Santa Claus. This is pretty much a verbatim transcript: “First Santa came to Bobby’s house, then he came to the Matthew who lives behind me’s house, then he came to my house. After that, he decided to go visit the baby Jesus, so he did. He brought Jesus presents and met Mary and Joseph, and even little Jesus, who was born. Santa made Jesus laugh, because he was silly. There were shepherds there, but not the wise men. They didn’t get there right away, because they went very very slow. And you know, they were old. So they went very very very very s-l-o-w. And everyone said, ‘Merry Christmas, and a very happy new year to everybody.’”
Ah, yes. The theology of a four year old.
We’re in the middle of the Epiphany season right now—we celebrate the light that is Christ, shining in our lives. I love the poetry of Isaiah 60—it calls to us, even today: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness will cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples, but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.” Wow. Great stuff…great news…and a great calling to each of us.
Sometimes the darkness of the world can seem overwhelming. Things go wrong. All we have to do is turn on the news or CNN to see it locally, nationally, and globally. People struggle with school. Families struggle with jobs. Friends, spouses, relationships of all kinds break down. There is so much hatred, so much fear, so much anxiety…it really does seem like we, the people, are covered in thick darkness, like the reading says.
But in the midst of the darkness, we are reminded…our light has come! What I really appreciate about this (especially as one who works in the church) is the reminder that I'm not called to be the light. It’s not on my shoulders to be the light for the world. (Thank God for that! We'd ALL be in a world of hurt if that was the case!) Rather, the light is Jesus. The light has already come. Even better, the light has already defeated the darkness! Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again to give us all the light that never grows dim. What we, you and I, are called to do is not to be the light, but to reflect the light. To carry the light into the dark places still hiding from the light. We are called to love our neighbor, to help the needy, to let our friends, neighbors, families know about the light in our own lives. We are called to pray for our friends and our enemies, to shine love and forgiveness where we go.
There's a wonderful little song I selected for last week's woship, entitled appropriately enough, We Are Called by David Haas (okay...David Haas isn't the one actually calling us...I suppose I should really say there's a song by David Haas entitled We Are Called. There. The English Major in me is now satisfied.). Anyway, here's the words:
Come! Live in the light!
Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord.
We are called to be light for the kingdom,
to live in the freedom of the city of God! (refrain)
Refrain: We are called to act with justice,
we are called to love tenderly,
we are called to serve one another
to walk humbly with God!
Come! Open your heart!
Show your mercy to all those in fear!
We are called to be hope for the hopeless
so all hatred and blindness will be no more! (refrain)
Sing! Sing a new song!
sing of that great day when all will be one!
God will reign, and we'll walk with each other
as sisters and brothers united in love! (refrain)
Think of your own life. Where is God calling you to arise and shine his light? Where are the dark places around you? This week, I challenge you to reflect on your calling, as I plan to reflect on my own. “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” Indeed—arise! And shine! We are called!