For many of us, we attended a candlelight service sometime over the course of the Christmas season; some of us lit candles in our sanctuaries on Christmas morning; and, I venture a guess, all of us experienced trees, lit up with twinkling lights.
No longer will the Advent candles be adorning the front of our sanctuary, reminding us of the "purple" time of waiting and the light that has come into the world.
No longer will twinkling lights on trees remind us that we are in a very special time of the year.
No longer will Christmas music seep from every crevice of the mall and every radio station in our cars.
We live in the already and not yet. We live in a world that knows that the baby Jesus came for a purpose larger than we can image. He came to save the world. He came to bring LIGHT to the world.
If you have ever lived in or visited Michigan in January, you know the bleakness that pervades the sky. You know the clouds that cover the earth. You know what it feels like to look forward to sun. We have now had two days in a row filled with sunlight--and this, is a blessing. When I feel the warmth of the sun combating the crisp coldness of the air, I know that there is something bigger than the moment. I know that there is a God that is far bigger and far better than I could ever imagine. This sunlight reminds me of the light of those candles on Christmas. It reminds me of the beauty of Christmas lights, peaking through snow after dark. It reminds me, that, in the already-not-yet world, Christmas is still here.
Christmas is still here.
On Sunday, January 6, we celebrate Epiphany, the day to remember when Christ was revealed to the Magi--the day, when the light of the star led to the Savior.
No longer was the world dark.
No longer was the world waiting.
No longer was the world the same.
In "Lift Up Your Hearts", the order of hymns has been very intentionally put together. The last song of the Christmas section is "Jesus, Jesus, Oh, What a Wonderful Child" and the first song of the Epiphany section is "Jesus, the Light of the World". Both of these songs have their roots in African American Spirituals, and speak of the purpose, greater than we can ever imagine, for Jesus to come into the dark world. These songs, however, are not sitting by each other because they are spirituals. They are next to each other to make it easier for congregations to sing these two back-to-back. And, by singing them back-to-back, we stop and think about how Christmas has invaded our world. How the LIGHT of Christ, came to save the world...
For, Epiphany teaches us that
No longer does Christmas stand on its own.
No longer does the light remain in the distance.
No longer does the hope of a coming Savior remain a hope.
Christ is reality. LIGHT is reality.
So, brothers and sisters in Christ. As you continue into this new year, observe the sunlight beaming through the clouds on a cloudy day. Smile at the Christmas lights that are still hanging around... even in March. Reveal in the LIGHT that has come to the world... and, like the song medley in "Lift Up Your Hearts" take the truths of Christmas with you into Epiphany and beyond.
For the LIGHT of Christ is our reality--let's live in the LIGHT and live of the LIGHT.
"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."