Friends, our song today is—“Arise, shine, your light has come!” We know that light attracts light, or we might say, “Good attracts more good!”
Another name for this feast is the “Epiphany,” which means, “manifestation.” The Bethlehem star was seen by astrologers, also known as “kings,” and they were apparently so taken aback by its light that they put their lives on hold to follow its light. A good question for each of us to ponder this day and week might be, what parts of my life would I be willing to put on hold or to perhaps change to follow this Star?
The astrologers’ understanding from a scientific viewpoint was that the showing of a new star in the heavens had to coincide with an equally grand event on earth, so they could do nothing but follow its light to where it might lead.
We, friends, are the recipients of this great event on earth! We have lived our lives knowing that Jesus, first born of our living God lived among us in time and each of us have been called to continue shining his light.
We conclude our official celebration of Christmas with this feast today, even though some of us might still be looking forward to celebrating Christmas when family members are able to gather, such as our family, this next weekend. This is good though because, as you have noticed throughout the official Christmas season; we have prayed that the joy, peace and love experienced at this wonderful time of year might continue on throughout the year. Remembering Isaiah’s prophetic words, “Arise, shine, your light has come,” seems to call us to more than twelve days, to, in fact live our lives, sharing the light that Jesus came to bring.
I believe we would all agree that we live in a time where much light, much goodness, is needed. Martin Luther King Jr. also spoke prophetically when he said, “Darkness cannot put out darkness, only light can do that.”
The psalmist today is prophetic as well as he/she tells us what the true leader, true follower of the light will look like: One who rescues the poor when they cry out and the afflicted when they have no one to help them—having pity on the lowly and the poor and save their lives. This doesn’t sound like Washington’s “trickle-down” policy of caring for those in need is what is being called for here.
An example closer to home is “Ashley’s Angels,” a non-profit organization which was started in 1997 by a driver for Ashley Furniture who discovered that a young girl was living with her mother in their car. He worked with others to get these two into housing before Christmas that year and succeeded.
Seeing all the good this did for these two, the light of goodness spread throughout the larger organization that has distribution centers in Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They work with schools to determine need and then raise the money needed to give every child in the designated family winter clothing, shoes, if needed, clothes, a blanket and a special Christmas present. This past Christmas, 1,356 children were helped. The non-profit, along with Ashley employees raised $262, 000 in support of the program. Only light can put out darkness.
In our present times, from the White House down through Congress, it seems the thought is, to care for those who have the most and somehow, those at the bottom will be taken care of. The writer to the Ephesians calls the lie to this type of distribution: “All are heirs—all are members of the one body.” To me that says—all are equal! In other words, “the light shining in the darkness” means that we must care for all—equally, no exceptions and support only those programs that do just that!
The gifts of the Christ Child were gold, frankincense and myrrh—that same Child lives today in all we meet in need—may we always see him/her and give from our plenty. Amen? Amen!