Lectionary Year B
January 6, 2000
(JFC) A. DESCRIPTION OF AUDIENCE
The congregation where I'll preach this text is in a tiny town, more than 10 miles an Interstate Highway, yet an oasis of lovely folk in the midst of dairy cattle country in rural Kentucky. The very small membership includes all ages and sponsors a clothes closet and a "Wild & Crazy Kids" after school hours program. Their pastor is on maternity leave and I'll preach for her 3 Sundays in January. I served them as stated supply and Session Moderator in 1994-95. It will be great to see them again.
(JFC) B. INTENDED GOALS FOR THE AUDIENCE
I could hope to get people in touch with the light with which God embraces them.
(JFC) C. ADDRESS
"Darkness And Light In Y2K"
Bleary eyes = too much football on TV New Years Day? Or, could it be the brilliance of the light Isaiah says has dawned? Have you discerned it? Let's look at it. . God's Light God's glory (Exodus 33:18, 22) is glorious. "Gloria Patri", "Gloria in excelsis Deo", etc. Weightiness (before obesity became undesirable, even over weightiness), abundance like riches as in Genesis 31:1 (when poverty was the order of the day) honor like what we express to God. Isaiah 51:4 = light = God's revelation and righteousness. Also, according to John L. McKenzie (Anchor Bible), "Light in the OT is the element which symbolizes both the presence of Yahweh and salvation".
This light of God's glory shines on us, into us and through us. It went with the exiles to Babylon (I Samuel 4:21f), it fills the earth (Isaiah 6:3), it showers over us (Isaiah 60). Also, in The Light Of God In Action, by George A. F. Knight, we read, "Christ, the Light that enlightens everyone, is the creative saving love of God for all people." "The Divine became a member of our sinful human family of frail, short-lived creatures of a day", Religion Online. Others will perceive it within us, maybe even if we fail to do so.
Darkness. 1999 brought some darkness and some of these days so early in the New Year , too, naturally enough. Holiday depression is a given with many. It happens and needs to be addressed. God is aware of the dark holes we suffer and is available to hear from us regarding them. As we look back, we have some dark shadows still fogging in regrets of the past. As we look ahead, we wonder just how bright the New Year will be.
Nor are we the only ones to suffer darkness in human life. The Old Testament people suffered darkness, too, remember. In Egypt, Exodus 10:21f, at Mount Sinai, Deuteronomy 4:11 and 5:20, in death and/or Sheol, I Samuel 2:9 and Job 10:21, and in distress, Isaiah 5:30, 9:1 and several more, and Lamentations 3:2, Psalm 18:29 and several places in Job; (see Bauer). Darkness comes in mourning in Isaiah 47:5, in perplexity in Job 5:14, 12:25 and 19:8, in confusion in Psalm 35:9, in ignorance in Ecclesiastes 2:14, etc.
That One who enlightens and illumines, God, has some solutions to the problems of darkness. Other people look and discern in us the light of divine glory. Monarchs gravitate to our light, children return, wealth of natural causes flood our environs = wealth, according to Isaiah. They bring proclamations of good news that gladden hearts = relief from the dark and introduce joy of the light. We sing of "glad tidings" that bring the sentiments of Samuel F. Smith, 1832, "The Morning Light Is Breaking"
The morning light is breaking, The darkness disappears.
The sons of earth are waking to penitential tears;
Each breeze that sweeps the ocean Brings tidings from afar
Of nations in commotion, Prepared for Zion's war.
See nations humbly bending Before the God we love,
And thousand hearts ascending In gratitude above:
While sinners, now confessing, The gospel call obey,
And seek the Savior's blessing, A nation in a day.
Blest river of salvation, Pursue thy onward way;
Flow thou to every nation, Nor in they riches stay:
Stay not till all thy lowly Triumphant reach their home;
Stay not till all the holy Proclaim,
"The Lord is come."
(Some possible hymns include, Thomas Hastings' "Hail to the Brightness of Zion's Glad Morning!" and Mary Ann Thomason's "O Zion, Haste, Thy Mission High Fulfilling".)
Facing Y2K with God's light seen and shining will make it a good year.
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