As many of you know, I spent five years of my childhood in the Dominican Republic because my parents were missionaries there for the Church of the Brethren. One of the things I loved about the DR was how brilliant, bright, and warm life was there. As a Caribbean nation, it was almost always bright and sunny. The weather was warm with a fresh ocean breeze. Houses are painted bright colors like yellow, purple, and pink. There is light everywhere, whether from the sun, the paint, or the energy of Caribbean life.
Back home in the northern United States, winters can be tough for me. Cloudy, gray skies drag on for days, or weeks. Farther from the equator, days are shorter and nights are longer. We found a wonderful house here in Kettering but as was common for homes built in the 1950s, several rooms lack ceiling lights. It has been hard to not have enough light in the evenings. Lamps just don’t provide the kind of light I need.
Katie and I have dreamed of putting nice, bright ceiling lights in our home ever since we moved here two years ago. We’ve been saving up the money to do that and this month we will finally get those lights installed. We’re excited for the light that our new ceiling lights will bring us later this month. We know they will bring us joy and brighten our home, especially on cloudy and dark winter days.
Spiritually, we are in the season of Epiphany. The Day of Epiphany, which was January 6, is sometimes called The Day of the Lights, because the Magi followed the light in the sky to find Jesus. However, Epiphany is not just one day but a whole season that runs until Lent begins in mid-February. This season is associated with light and that’s the main reason why our sermon series over the next few weeks is called “Welcoming the Light.” During this season we focus on welcoming Jesus, who was born at Christmas.
I enjoy reading The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible by Eugene Peterson. I particularly enjoy his take on putting John chapter 1 into modern language. In verses 1-5, he uses names like “Life-Light” and “Word” to describe Jesus. And in verse 14, he refers to Jesus’ birth, saying, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” I love the beautiful imagery of Jesus, the Light, moving into our neighborhood to be with us. It’s as if the Gospel of John is saying that Jesus, the Light, is our new neighbor! How wonderful!
As I take in this wonderful news of Jesus coming to us as a great Light, I’ve been reflecting on how sorely his arrival is needed. We have been through some dark and chaotic times lately, as individuals, as a nation, and as a world. If there was ever a time that we needed the light of Christ to be among us, it is now. Our world desperately needs Jesus. Over the next several weeks we will explore together how we can Welcome the Light that Jesus brings, into our lives. We’ll also be invited to share the great Light that is Christ with those around us.
As I eagerly look forward to the day that our ceiling lights will be installed, I’ve often paused to think about how I’m making space within myself for the Light of Christ to be installed in me. And I’ve wondered how I can share the Light of Christ with others. I’m excited to learn more and more about how to do that in the next several weeks. Join me on this journey of welcoming the Light that has moved into our neighborhood!