Light

A Light for the Nations

Christopher Columbus noted in his private journals, how the words of Isaiah 42, especially the line “I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,” kept him going, through the dark times of his life. When no one was willing to back him on his westward quest, the fact that God had given him this vision drove him on, hat in hand, visiting the various courts in Europe looking for a sponsor. When everyone turned against him, Columbus held tighter onto this personal interpretation of Isaiah. The phrase, “I give you as a covenant to the people,” is spelled out in the next line of Isaiah 42:7, “to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” This sense of mission, Columbus says, and not the search for gold, is what made him return to the Americas for two additional journeys.

 

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Epiphany 1

Being Light

Let’s be blunt; I’m not good enough. Jesus says, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I’ve been doing some reading lately on first century Judaism and am ready to conclude that the scribes, Pharisees, Essenes, and even, the Sadducees, were a lot better folk than the average church going Christian is today. They, at least, sought to know the commandments of God and worked at obeying what they had been taught. This meant fasting, tithing, attending week-long religious celebrations, and setting aside hours each day for prayer. If God grades on the curve, I still fail.

 

The core commandment of the Old Testament is: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)The grace that God extends to us in Jesus Christ reconnects us with this fundamental law. Through salvation our sins are forgiven and we receive new hearts capable of love. The question remains, “how does our righteousness exceed the religion of Jesus’ opponents?”

Sunday, February 9, 2014
Epiphany 5

Light Misunderstood

...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

“What is light?” I asked my father.

“Well, that depends upon what you need it for.”  My father was somewhat an expert on the subject, having worked on optical design, first for Sandia Labs, and then at Goerz. “When you design a lens, light is like the waves that you see upon the sea. All of the colors of the rainbow are but different lengths between the peaks and troughs of light’s waves. But when you take a closer look, pondering the smallest bits that fall like dust upon a photocell or a roll of film, then you best remember that light is really a particle.”

This was my first encounter with what is known as a paradox. Two understandings that are both true, yet opposite. At Christmas and the holidays, paradoxes abound. 

To name just a few:
    •    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as an example of family values.
    •     Peace on Earth, promised. Then Herod slays the innocents.
    •    Wisemen with extravagant gifts and Jesus’ uncompromising emphasis on simplicity.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Christmas Eve
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