We come by our love of the light quite naturally I think. We were once without protection from wild beasts and the elements. Light promised calmness, the ability to see into the distance. That which can be frightening, even upon a cave wall, turns out to be nothing in the light of day.
Today we celebrate the Epiphany. We celebrate the light that has come in Jesus.
Isaiah 60-1-6 announces that the light has come! Along with this we are told to “shine out” as well. And indeed that is what we are called to.
Light has come to mean in the scriptures, many things. It means “the good” as opposed to the evils of darkness. It means to come into knowledge, out of the world of myth and misunderstanding. It means God, Jesus and the Spirit.
Who has not, believer or not, stood with face towards the East at day break or to the West at sunset and, feeling the rays of sunlight, felt moved. Felt cosmically connected to something greater?
Isaiah speaks of a time when everyone will flock to the light–flock to Jerusalem in his time, the center of knowledge of the One True God. The center of worship, the residence of the Holiest of Holies. Everyone, in the time of the final and perfect Kingdom will accede to Jerusalem as the point of glory.
This reading reflects the Kingship that we believe dawned in the birth of Jesus. It is coupled with Matthew 2:1-12. Both refer to bringing gifts of gold and incense. To the infant King, as described by the Magi. His coming is known by the star, seen by the magi and by the shepherds. Again the light shines upon us, guiding us.
The light guides the Magi to the child, as it does the shepherds. Yet, mystery abounds, as the Magi are warned to not return to Herod. This in a dream or vision. They do not. They protect the light. The light is ultimately carried to Egypt where it remains until Herod is dead, and no longer a threat.
Paul in Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 refers to this mystery, the mystery that Jesus is the Jerusalem, the center of the Kingdom, the light. He tells the Gentiles that they too are now part of this New Jerusalem, this city of Light. And Jesus, the real light has made it so, through the will of God.
Mystery and light, dance together in a beautiful symphony. It is what we feel in that mysterious moment when the rays of the sun caress our cheek and we experience the profound “something” that is inexplicable, yet so very real. We feel presence, unity, serenity in those fleeting moments.
And as Isaiah, points out, we are to “shine out”. We are not here just to receive this perfect grace, but to shine forth to the world what we have seen, felt, and what we believe.
As we move ever closer to the light, embracing it with out minds and hearts and souls, our light grows stronger and we have more to give, more to offer others. We discover that light is never-ending, never exhaustible, always renewed and renewing.
The more light we give, the more we receive, and the more we can give. It is that wonderful perfect paradox that is God.
Come share in the light, submit to the mystery, and SHINE OUT!