By Pastor Wes Poole
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. NRSV
As is usual this time of the year, I find myself looking to the months ahead. There is a certain rhythm to congregational life; a consistency and predictability that is familiar and comfortable. Of course, we all know now just how quickly such notions of normalcy can be irrevocably changed. As I write this, it is the very last day of Christmas. Tomorrow, when you are hopefully reading this, is the traditional celebration of the Epiphany. Easter isn’t until early April, so we have these important weeks after the Epiphany to continue to ponder God’s gift of Himself as the Light of the World. This year, in just about a week actually, my son Ian will turn 18. Looking back across those 18 years, I remember so clearly how those images of Epiphany, light, hope, and the possibilities of new life, resonated for me then. Perhaps this year, as we look to move past the difficulties of 2020 and the real hope that 2021 brings, taking extra time to focus on the transcendence of God’s Light piercing the darkness will prove to be even more beneficial.
Yes, the images of God’s Light shining in the darkness of our lives are quite powerful. They offer us a great insight into God and ourselves. In some of his most poignant writing, St. Paul gives us a beautiful discourse on God’s Light and how it is reflected in all our lives. God has “shone in our hearts” that we might catch a glimpse of His true glory. God’s light outshines any darkness. We have only to turn its beam in the right direction to watch what happens as the power of God overcomes all that sin would produce.
One of the other potent insights Paul gives us in this familiar passage is a picture of our humanity and how that is used by the God who created and cherishes us. As God’s faithful ministers and co-workers, we are charged with the task of bearing His light; illuminating the dark corners of sin and death and bringing hope in the face of despair. Yet Paul says “that we have this treasure in clay jars”; not golden chests or jewel encrusted bowls, but common, breakable clay. We are like the clay jars. Through the cracks that appear in us, the light, which is the love of God, shines through; proving once again that some of God’s greatest works are done with the most ordinary parts of His Creation. That is Good News for us and for anyone else who sees the light shining through us. God accepts us, cracks and all, and allows us to take part in His Plan for all of Creation. As we move through these next few months and once again look towards the more somber season of Lent, let us remember that we are still God’s instruments of light and love; shining beacons of hope for a world that could use a bit more illumination. Shine the light and show others the way to the Father!
May the brightness of Almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit allow us continually to turn darkness to light and sin into new life.
Let us pray…
God of Epiphany light, we realize that we, like the times we live in, do not always live up to potential or expectations. Help us acknowledge the cracks in ourselves, and offer them to you. As Paul reminds us, Your Light shines even through our own sin and imperfections. Keep us ever mindful You always value our efforts, and continually provide us the forgiveness and strength we need to carry on. We ask these things in the Name of Jesus, the Light of the World. Amen.
Be well, be kind, and be safe!
Pastor Wes †