Let the Light Shine
Rev. Dr. Donna Giver-Johnston
February 11, 2018
Brian got a toy for Christmas that has added a whole new light to our house. We walk into our bedroom and say, “Alexa, turn on lamp”….and the lamp comes on to brighten the room. What power--to turn on a light with a word.
If only we had that power in other places in our lives...
When waking up to a dark snowy day in Pittsburgh, if only we could say, “Alexa, turn on the sunlight.”
When feeling down and depressed, if only we could say, Alexa, turn on our happy light.
When seeing a person battling cancer, if only we could say “Alexa, turn on the healing light.”
When reading about our country divided in every way if only we could say “Alexa, turn on the unifying light.”
When hearing the news of a place torn apart by war, if only we could say “Alexa, turn on the light of peace.”
Long before Alexa was invented, God was turning on the light…
In the beginning of time, God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”
In time of darkness, the psalmist declared, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” and “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
In the fullness of time, God’s Word became flesh, declaring, “I am the light of the world, a light no darkness can overcome.”
Here in the reading for today on this Transfiguration Sunday, the light shined through Jesus, so that his clothes became dazzling white, and God said, “This is my Son, the beloved.”
Peter said, “It is good for us to be here.” On the mountain Peter can see what he could not see down in the valley. His vision is transformed; he can see clearly. He sees who Jesus really is and that Jesus is for real.
Peter knew a good thing when he saw it.
In Jesus’ presence, his doubt dissipated and his faith flourished.
In Jesus’ presence, he was filled with hope and happiness.
In Jesus’ presence, he saw the light that showed a way through the darkness.
Peter knew a good thing when he saw and declared, “it is good for us to be here.”
At the end of the passage, Jesus leads his disciples down the mountain, back into the valley of ministry.
At the end of the service, I will charge you to go out into the world.
But for now, it is good for us to be right here. With nothing else to do. With nowhere else to go.
Like with the disciples, Jesus invites us to come away with him. To be still. Just for now.
To see what we cannot see in the valley of the world. To look upon the cross. To listen to the words and the music. To pray. To be silent.
To be filled with the light of Christ, the light no darkness can overcome.
To allow our vision to be transformed. To see Christ in all his glory right before our eyes.
To see that Jesus is for real.
“Yes, it is good for us to be here.”
It is good for our church to be here….why? Last year, we discerned that our church’s purpose is this: We are all beloved children of God, called in for refuge and called out to reshape the world around us.”
But, before we can reshape the world, we have to come in for refuge, we have to come away to be reminded of what is real, to be in the presence of Jesus, to fill up our cup with faith and hope, fill up our hearts with joy and peace, fill up our souls with light and love.
Peter knew a good thing when he saw it. It was so good that he wanted to take the light with him. He said, “Let us make a dwelling for you.” He wanted to capture the light and hold onto it forever. Like a child captures lightning bugs in a jar, he wanted to put the light in a box and take it with him, so he could get a glimpse whenever he needed it.
But unbeknownst to them, Jesus did something better. And it doesn’t require a box or Alexa. Jesus put his light into Peter and James. Jesus knew a good thing when he saw it--his light shining through them--and then he led them down the mountain to share it with others.
We might say, “well, we are not Peter and James. We are not worthy to carry the light of Christ.
--To challenge our thinking, Marianne Williamson wrote these powerful words:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
Alexa may not be able to light up the darkness in the dark valleys of the world, but we have to power to.
When feeling down and depressed, we can allow Christ’s light to give us real joy.
When seeing a person battling with cancer, we can be a healing light.
When reading about our country divided in every way, we can be uniting light.
When hearing the news of a place torn apart by war, we can let the light of peace shine in and through us. As a transfigured people, we do have the power to change the world, one light at a time.
“People are like stained - glass windows,” said Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, “They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
One of my favorite parts of our worship service is when a child comes forward carrying the flame to light the Christ candle. It nearly always takes my breath away and makes me smile with delight. It’s as if a child is bringing the light of Christ from one high into this place and lighting up any darkness we may have, and giving us the courage to carry the light with us.
So let your light shine and let it illumine the world.