The Light of Christ
Alleluia, Christ is Risen! (x3)
As we lit our candles this evening, from the new flame of the Paschal candle, and made our way into the Chapel, we followed Deacon Deanna Sue. And as she led us into this space, she chanted, “The Light of Christ,” and we responded with, “Thanks be to God.”
Why did we do that? Of course, the most obvious answer is that we can read the Prayer Book. As good Episcopalians, we know to say the words designated to us in Response. But if simply repeating what is written is as far as it goes, then we miss the purpose of this service, the purpose of celebrating Easter, and the reason behind our proclamations of faith.
So what does it mean to speak of The Light of Christ? Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, Light is used to represent the goodness and the presence of God. In Hebrew, the word is “Or”. In Greek, the word is “foce” (phos).
To both Old and New Testaments people, The Light represented God, because God has the qualities of being subtle, pure and brilliant. Light is used as a metaphor for truth, knowledge, and spirit. So when we proclaim that we are entering into the Light of Christ, we are identifying ourselves as people who have come to understand, that purity and truth, and knowledge, and spirit are given to us, and need to emanate from us.
Each Easter we celebrate The Risen Christ. The Light of the World. So how are we living into that Light? How are we taking the Good News, that Jesus came into the World to save us from ourselves and make us new again? How are we emanating Christ's Light – the power and glory of God into creation, and helping all of God's children to come to the love and joy of this new day?
That may seem like a tall order considering all the darkness we see in the world. But darkness is nothing new. Evil is nothing new. One of the big differences between darkness and light, is that darkness overwhelms. It keeps us from seeing things as they really are. It can confuse us and lead us to stumble and fall. But, as I said a few moments ago, the qualities of light –the qualities of God, include the abilities to be both brilliant and subtle. The Light of Christ gives us a chance to use our eyes and hearts to truly see the World, to look out for the stumbling blocks, to determine what paths we will take, and to help others take the paths best suited for themselves.
When we stay in the dark, we see our world today as Shadows. Everything can seem as if it is either fading away, or more frightening than it needs to be. Now, this is not to say that everyone in the world means us well. Certainly there are many who dwell in darkness, and prefer the Shadows. But perspective (which can only be determined in the Light), requires that we not be tempted into despair – but to remember, that God is Love; Christ came to make us a permanent part of that love: and to give us the sight to see the truth of that love in the world.
So, while we remember and mourn for the lost lives in the 236 terrorist attacks across the World this year alone – including the horror of Belgium; we need to also remember that there are more than 2 billion Health care workers in the world, assisting people in every country, and saving millions of lives from wounds, diseases, and illness. Though we may look at the political and governmental circus that seems to define so much of our leadership in this country and around the world today, we need to also remember that, as President Obama pointed out in his speech to the Cuban people, we live in a nation where a boy born of an immigrant father from Kenya, raised by a single, impoverished mother, can become President of the most powerful country on earth. And we need to remember that in this Primary season, as citizens we are choosing from a long list of candidates, that have included two people of Cuban descent, one of Indian descent, one of African descent, one who is a Jewish Democratic-socialist, some who are Conservative, some liberal, and a woman. The freedom of a diverse society is all around us. And Freedom is a part of Light. The Light of Christ shines into every nook and cranny and we need to proclaim the love, forgiveness and newness offered through that light.
It is through Christ's great gift of forgiveness – through Christ's resurrection, that we know that light wins out over darkness – that shadows have no place to hide when we turn our full love through God on the World. This is the Light of Christ. Thanks be to God.