This week can be a continuation of last week; the Christmastide desire to hold on to the hope of Christmas. Except this week, we go from a position of strength and not of loss. Instead of focusing on the cloud, we look to the light. Light is the dominant image this week. Consider how you will share the light, offer the light to those who worship with you this week. Remember all those Christmas Eve candles? You know you’re going to have to get new ones next year, so why not hand them out as folks leave today? We sometimes take them home on Christmas Eve, but what about the second Sunday after Christmas? What about the first Sunday of a new year? Let’s cling to the light.
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Many communities use the Wesley Covenant Prayer (See A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition, 607 in the United Methodist Hymnal) on this first Sunday of the year. It also is a way of clinging to the light. It is an honest prayer, admitting that not everything is easy in this life of faith, this discipleship journey. “Let me be full, let me be empty” or “put me to doing, put me to suffering” are words of deep commitment and genuine faith. And yet, a life lived to this model, this pattern, becomes a light not just for the one who lives it but to all those around.
There is a curious mixture of seeing the light and being the light in the Christian life, which is true for all kinds of light. Carrying a candle means your light is shared to any and all those around you. And that’s as it should be. We aren’t to hide our light under a bushel, remember? What are some ways that your community is the light for the wider neighborhood? Where does your light shine? This would be a good week to celebrate that sharing, that radiance.
We started this series with a suggestion that “we’ll leave the light on” would be a good subtitle. It is also a good exit line for Christmastide. As we head to Epiphany, where light is also central, we go with confidence, surrounded by the light of home behind us and around us and within us. But perhaps most importantly coming from us. Let your light shine.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.