“It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” Luke 2:32 CEB
It was a beautiful night on the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature was mild, there was a very pleasant breeze, and the waves were fairly calm. It was a clear night and you could see a good number of stars in the sky. The water moving the boat and the gentle sounds of the waves were relaxing. We were out for a ride off the coast of Jupiter, Florida and it was a very beautiful night. There were very few boats out on the ocean that night and even fewer ships off in the distance. In fact, it was a really dark night on the ocean. The lights on the shoreline were only enough to grant perspective and nowhere near enough light to help you see. Yes, it was dark. As we were moving along slowly we heard a large splash come from the side of the boat. Everyone turned in the direction of the noise. It was so dark that we could not see anything. We were not sure what had made the noise. A few moments passed and we heard the noise again. Everyone turned but once again could not see anything. It really started to get everyone a little unsettled. It also began to drive home a point we were all aware of … you can’t see in the dark and the dark can be scary.
This experience of mine is a little like the story we will read this Christmas Eve. It was a dark night and it was hard to see. It was the time of night where the shepherds in the fields would be getting the sheep to settle in for the night. The closer the sheep were to the shepherd, and to each other, the better he was able to keep watch over the flock. It was usually in the dark of the night that the shepherd would listen for noises. The noise of grass or leaves rustling, noise of paws working their way toward the flock. It was in the dark of the night that lions, bears, wolves, and others would try to get an easy meal. This is when the shepherd needed to be most alert and aware. It is also when the shepherd would be most tested in his ability to be aware of the lurking dangers and protect the flock. Mostly because you can’t see in the dark and the dark can be scary.
That night on the Atlantic Ocean we couldn’t see and we were a little scared. That is until my friend, who owned the boat, turned on a spotlight. Immediately we could see and our fears were relieved. The bright light was shining on the water and revealing what had been making the sound. It wasn’t anything scary it was something amazing. We were being visited by a small pod of dolphins. We moved from being scared and wondering to being excited and amazed. The pod stayed with us for quite a while and we simply enjoyed watching them and being graced with their presence. A little light can bring sight and overcome our fears.
That night in the fields the shepherds were completely in the dark. They didn’t know what was about to happen. Then the light of the brightest star they had ever seen lit up the night sky. Shortly after that the light of an angel would shine in the sky above them telling them not to be afraid. The shepherds would go from being in the fields in the dark to being in the presence of the Light of the World. The Light of the World was born into the world that night. The light came into darkness and turned the scariness of night into the wonder of the manger. The Light of the World would bring sight to the darkness of night and overcome the fears of the world.
Just a little while later, eight days, Mary and Joseph took their newborn son to the temple as was customary under the law. When they arrived a man named Simeon approached them. Part of what Simeon tells Mary and Joseph is, “It’s a light for revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel.” The “it” is Jesus, God’s salvation for all humanity. Simeon is letting them know, and everyone who has read the story, that the Light of the World is Jesus. Where there was darkness there is now light, where there was fear there is now strength and peace, and where there was uncertainty there is now salvation. Jesus is the light of the world for those who know God and for those who do not. Jesus is the light of revelation to ALL. You cannot see in the dark and it can be a little scary … Jesus is THE light that takes away ALL of our fear and allows us to see God’s great love for us.
This Sunday we continue our Advent message series Every Story Whispers His Name. The message this week will help us consider the light to all the world. The light is Jesus Christ! This Sunday is also Christmas Eve when we will celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I look forward to seeing you at one of our five worship services [10 a.m. Blended Worship |4:30 p.m. Family Worship | 6:30 p.m. Contemporary Worship | 8:30 p.m. Traditional Worship | 11 p.m. Traditional Worship with Communion]. It is a great time to be at St. Andrew’s. God is at work. I can’t wait to see you in church!