Turn On a Light

by Reverend Amanda

When I was a child, my brothers and I loved playing outside at dusk. One of my favorite games was to play hide-and-go-seek as the sun slipped below the horizon, when the shadows began to extend. My brother and I would hide simply by choosing a good shadow and lie in wait while my other brother searched. My problem always came when it was my turn to be the seeker. As it got darker, it became increasingly harder to find my older brothers as they silently hid in plain sight. The shadows and greyness of early evening made it difficult for me to distinguish the outlines of my siblings hiding in the darkness.

However, if I had been allowed to use a flashlight, there would have been no issues in finding what I was looking for. To be fair, it would have been cheating and would have given me an unfair advantage. Now a flashlight doesn’t get rid of the darkness, it doesn’t burn away the shadows. But it lights up just enough to reveal what we need to see as we walk. This is how the light of Christ works. Divine light works very much like a flashlight in the darkness. It reveals just what we need to see, so we can safely move forward in our spiritual journeys.

Our scriptures for this morning are both about divine light, that of Moses and then of Christ. This light is life altering. For Moses, it so changed his appearance that he had to cover his face, so he could continue to interact with others in his community. With Christ, the vision of his divine light revealed just enough of what God was planning to help solidify the commitment of Peter, James, and John. They saw just enough to know without a doubt who Jesus was and that God had a messianic plan. This would bring them through rising tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees and the eventual arrest and death of Christ. In the same way, God will turn on a light for us to see just what we need to bring us through those times of challenge and crisis, to give us courage in the face of all that life has placed before us, to give us courage when we feel as if we are wandering around the world blind.

This light becomes the inspiration for us to continue seeking God in those times when we want to just turn around and leave. Desiderius Erasmus wrote, “Give light and the darkness will disappear of itself”.[1] Christ and all of his disciples were about to be propelled into a time of great turmoil starting with the transfiguration. They were about to face great darkness and the worst of humanity. They were about to face a power base that felt threatened by the presence and message of Christ and the way he empowered the marginalized of society. They feared that if he were the true Messiah that their individual power and the money and backing they received from the Romans would be jeopardized. When powerful people are fearful, they lash out and kill that which they don’t understand. This is exactly what Jesus was preparing his followers to experience. They were about to grapple with the worst tendencies of humanity.

This experience of the transfiguration needed to be something that would ignite a light, a passion, inside each person to give them the ability to persevere even when things got dark, even when they began to doubt, even when they wanted to give up. This light was to be their flashlight shining amongst the shadows.

We too are being invited into this intimate experience of Moses, Elijah, and Christ because we too need to experience the holiness of divine light. We need to know that even though life can become very dark, even though the actions of humanity may make us doubt the presence of God, Christ still offers to light our way. If we reflect that light, as the disciples learned to do with the Resurrection, then that light offers to chase away the shadowy sides of humanity on its own.

So how do we allow the light of Christ to shine through in our lives? We commit ourselves to our faith. We do so by living by the teachings of Jesus which urge us to love one another. We do so by caring about what happens in society and reaching out to help those who are in need. We do so by acting with kindness and compassion even when we want to act out of anger and frustration. Our scriptures tell us just how to embrace this light, “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone”.[2] If we just use Jesus as our example, listening to his words of advice then we can become a beacon of light that can chase away the darkness. If we just live our lives working to brighten our little corners then that light will slowly begin to spread.

So this week, let us focus on how to better live into the message of Christ: a message of love, compassion, and forgiveness and may these guiding lessons allow the light of Christ to chase away the shadows and reveal to us and others just what he needs us to do.

[1] Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch Philosopher and Theologian, 15th century.

[2] Luke 9:35-36, NRSV.