I am the Light of the World.
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the Earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Tuesday, January 6 was Epiphany. Epiphany means “revealing” and commemorates the revealing of the Jewish Messiah to the Gentile world. Specifically the Magi - as the first Gentile worshippers of the Jewish Messiah Jesus Christ. At the end of the story we find these words…
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. After they had found the Christ child, the one born King of the Jews, after they had found Jesus - they returned home by another way.
A real encounter with Jesus Christ will not leave us unchallenged or unchanged. Once we see Jesus as the King we have to journey through life by another way. If you get the Epiphany of Jesus as the you have to journey through life by another way.
By grace Jesus Christ invites us into a radically new way of life - the life of the kingdom - but this requires practice. We have to learn new habits, new rhythms, an entirely new language. For hundreds of years, Christians in various traditions have entered into the life of the kingdom through certain daily, weekly, and monthly practices. Through prayer and fasting, solitude and silence, communion and confession, sacrifice and service.
We have to train ourselves to become more like Christ.
We have to train ourselves to love.
We have to live our lives by another way.
But before we can begin this new journey we need an Epiphany.
Christianity, at its core, is about something that has happened. It is not about discovering a new moral teaching. Or a new philosophical system. It can’t be proven in a test tube or discovered in a
microscope. The original message of the gospel can not be arrived at scientifically or achieved morally. The original message of the gospel is come and see! Come and meet a person!
Christianity is about the belief that God, in fulfillment of his promises and as a climax to the story of Israel, has put into effect his great rescue operation in the person and the work of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Jesus Christ came announcing a new Kingdom, a new reality, a new light has broken into our world and
proclaiming that he himself was the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and the key to this new reality. That he was the light of the world!
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
This is an extraordinary metaphor.
An outrageous claim.
And a revolutionary call.
Light is our primary source of life, truth, and joy. Without the light of the sun all life would cease to exist and we would be unable to discern the truth of our surroundings or enjoy the beauty around us. However, too much light destroys life - we could not survive the powerful heat and light of the sun except for the earth's atmosphere; a filter.
The same light that is our main source of life and truth and joy, is also something that unmediated will take it all away.
God's glory throughout the Old Testament was exactly the same. In Exodus 33 when Moses asks God to show him His glory. This is what we were made for, to know and experience the glory of our Creator. But God says, it will kill you, because you have no mediator. It will overwhelm you. It will destroy you. It will kill you.
So when Jesus stands up in the Temple says "I am the light of the world" He is saying, "I am the ultimate source of life, truth, and joy in a way that you can finally see and touch and grasp."
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.
God looks like Jesus.
God has always looked like Jesus.
We haven’t always known this.
But now we do.
And now we must live by another way.
To see Jesus as the light of the world, to receive this epiphany of Christ, means you receive a whole new way of life, which also means the old way of life has to die. Old ideas. Old Assumptions. Old ways of thinking about the world. They have to die.
When you follow the light you will never walk in darkness, you will have the light of life, but you will be forced to go through life by another way.
Journey Of The Magi by T. S. Eliot
'A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year For a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter.' And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory, Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet. Then the camel men cursing and grumbling and running away, and wanting their liquor and women, And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices: A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly. Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kiking the empty wine-skins. But there was no information, and so we continued And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory. All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down This set down This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.