DIVINE SERVICE Isaiah 60:1-3 The Light in Our Darkness Sometimes darkness is preferred over and above the bright light of day: • Having a candle light dinner in a darkened room has a special appeal and romance. • Going to see a movie at the theatre only works if the theatre is dark. • Some people can’t sleep unless curtains block out all light and their bedroom is completely dark. Sometimes the phrase “in the dark” might be used to indicate that we are confused, don’t understand, unclear, bamboozled. An example. -story sa naay wala nakasabot In the Bible and in literature generally darkness is associated with things that are evil and with death. Under the cover of darkness many crimes are committed. We think of many acts of cruelty and violence as coming from our dark side. Death is described as something dark and sinister. It is always the bad guys in movies who wear black to symbolise their dark deeds (Darth Vadar in Star Wars or The dark land of Mordor in Lord of the Rings) -st0ry xa brownout xa America In the dark businesses were practically destroyed, not by hardened criminals, but by neighbours, by ordinary people who lived up the road, by normally law abiding people. In the dark, greed took over. -The darkness may be poverty, hunger and homelessness. -It may be the hopelessness of a mother as she watches her child’s life slowly fading away because of a lack basic food, clean water and health care. -tsunami -For another person darkness is struggling with an illness, the aches and pains of old age, losing the struggle with failing abilities and entering a nursing home. For some darkness is the inevitable day when they lose a loved one through death. Whatever is your temptation – that is your darkness. Hatred. Greed. Not caring how your actions affect others. Alcohol abuse. Selfishness. All the things that Satan, the prince of darkness, brings into our lives. In fact, sometimes the darkness can become so thick that we have difficult seeing the mess that sin has made of our lives. There are so many people in our community who live in darkness and don’t even realise it. -story xa nomad na mikaon ug dates Some times people prefer the darkness, because in the light they see too much. They continue in their old ways, because they don’t like having a light shine on them that will show that their relationship with God is in a terrible state and they are in serious trouble. [John’s gospel says, “This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil” (John 3:19).] -----The Old Testament text today from Isaiah reminds us that a new light has come from the Lord. It is shining on all people. This new light chases away all shadows and darkness. The closer this light comes to them, the more they will see the darkness in their lives and the more they will feel its warmth and comfort. The closer this light comes to them, the more others will be able to see the light that is shining through them. Isaiah is talking about people from all nations being drawn from the darkness to the light. The prophet says, “Your sun shall no more go down, neither shall your moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:20). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness”(John 8:12). The prophecies of the Old Testament have been fulfilled. What an impact Christ the light has had on the darkness in our lives and in the world! 1.} Jesus is the Light. This light exposes those dark private corners of our lives that we prefer to keep hidden. Everything is not as neat and tidy as we thought. There is a mess that needs to be cleaned up, and even though we have tried to hide the mess in the darkest and most private corner of our lives, the light of Jesus has shown us that there is dirt piled up there that needs cleaning out. • Our temptations and secret sins, • those faults that we would prefer not to admit to, • the poor way we have treated the people we love, • the selfish attitude that we have nurtured, • the times we have preferred to look the other way than offer a helping hand. 2.} The Light, Jesus, has come into the world: • not to bring condemnation, but to bring salvation, • not to rub our noses in the dirt of those dark corners, • but to sweep them out, to bring healing and reconciliation. This light is freely yours. Bask in the beauty and warmth of the sun – the Son of God.” Jesus is the real light, the genuine light who changes things. • He is forgiveness. • He is hope. • He is encouragement. • He is a word of love. • He is strength. • He is what you need to lighten your personal darkness. • He is light to every person who has need of super-human strength to see through the darkness of trouble and sickness. • He is the light who guides us along life’s journey when we have more questions than we have answers. • He is the light that dispels the darkness of guilt with his forgiveness and the darkness of fear when we take our last breath. He is the light of life, eternal life. In whatever way the darkness shows itself in our lives, Christ has come to be a light for us. Wherever there is darkness in our family, in our friendships, in our community, Christ has come to shed light on all those areas of our lives to restore peace and harmony and joy. Wherever there is darkness in our nation or in the world at large, Christ has commanded us to let our light shine before men, to use whatever means we have at our disposal to relieve the suffering of others and drive out the darkness that shrouds the lives of so many. We are to let the light of Christ shine through us so that the darkness of despair and hopelessness might be dispelled. It is clear that a darkness has come across many places in our region of the world because of the tsunami. We were powerless to stop the earthquake and the subsequent tidal wave that caused so much destruction. Darkness has filled the lives of so many, but it is now our job as those who have the light of Christ in our lives to let that light shine into the darkness to give hope, encouragement, the means to avoid sickness and more deaths. Jesus says to us, “You are light for the whole world…. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). During a severe outbreak of influenza that had claimed the lives of many people, all public gathering places in one town were ordered closed in order to stem the spread of the disease. This included churches. Yet more than ever, it was then that people needed hope and consolation. Burdened by his inability to reach out to people in their time of need, one resourceful pastor thought of his church’s magnificent stained glass windows. Those windows faced a main street and many people passed by the church everyday. The pastor had numerous floodlights placed inside the church; the light shining through the glass to the outside world gave passers-by the full effect of the windows’ story. There for all to see were the timeless portrayals of Jesus: • Jesus the good shepherd carrying a lamb; • Jesus the searching Saviour rescuing the lone lost sheep while the ninety-nine rested safely in the fold; • Jesus praying in Gethsemane; • Jesus on the cross; • Jesus risen from the dead. • These windows were silent sermons of light and stained glass. People who passed by the church would stop reverently, silently. They found themselves filled with new determination and encouragement. In the darkness that filled their lives the light streaming from those windows the words of Isaiah took on new meaning, “Your sun shall no more go down, neither shall your moon withdraw itself; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:20). When the wisemen bowed before Jesus they realised that the brilliance of the star they had followed was nothing compared to the light that God has sent at Christmas. Jesus is the one who will meet you in your deepest darkness, whatever that darkness is for you. His love never changes. In his light, we find the strength to carry on. In his light, the darkness around us and in the lives of others is replaced with hope, love, and forgiveness. 1. For it says 'your light has come' - Jesus Christ, our light, has come. He came, He died, He rose again. He has already won the victory on the cross and all sin has been paid for. We are on the winning side! More than enough reason to live for Him and shine. 2. 'The glory of the Lord has risen upon you' - Jesus has given His life to you. His presence is with and in the believer. This makes all the difference. There is no way we can shine without Him. But we no longer have to be trapped in the frustration of living with only our own resources. Naturally we all fail. But we can shine through His life in us. 3. The third reason to arise and shine is because people are in darkness. Actually deep (or gross) darkness to be exact. Remember this passage is prophetic of the end of the age. Darkness will cover the entire earth. There is a lot of darkness hovering on the horizon. Morally, spiritually, financially, emotionally... In so many areas there is the darkness of despair hovering over this world. The one good thing is that the darker it becomes, the easier it is to see the light. And, as Isaiah said in the previous chapter (KJV) 'when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.' 4. The final reason to rise and shine is the result: 'Gentiles shall come to your light.' The light attracts... and not just moths. People want to see something that is real. Although as someone has said - 'Some people change their ways when they see the light, others only when they feel the heat.'