The word is... light

December 2, 2016

...well said

Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.


By Rev. Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg

When I was a kid I used to love driving by this particular Arby’s fast food place in Macon, Ga., where I lived, because  it was enormous and shaped like a cowboy hat. It was illuminated by all these lights at night. To my little 6-year-old brain, it was like being in Las Vegas. I could not imagine anything more impressive.

Our family loves to go see Christmas lights, and to light candles on our Advent wreath, and certainly this is the time of year for that sort of activity.

What I’ve noticed this year is some of the light displays that used to thrill our little tykes are no longer so thrilling now that they are teenagers. Our son requested going to see some “new lights” instead of the old tried-and-true displays we’ve gone to for years.

At first I thought he was being cynical or just being a teenager, but then I thought perhaps many folks desired to see some “new lights” this year. How many of us come to Christmas longing for a fresh and new encounter with the Christ child? How many of us wish for “less heat and more light” in our walk and in our communities?

The light that Christmas brings, the Light of the World, is not a gigantic twinkling Arby’s hat, or even a breathtaking Santa’s Workshop light display. It’s not something to be admired, or sighed over, or to use as background for our hot chocolate sipping.

No. The Light that is Christ shines in darkness – the darkness of divisiveness and injustice and oppression – and it lights a pathway through it.  When that happens, we are called out of our comfort zones and shown things we don’t always want to see.  People are hungry, and oppressed and discriminated against.  Christ’s Light shows us the faces of brothers and sisters where once there were strangers. Christ’s Light calls us to be reflections of his light ourselves, working for justice and for peace.

Christ’s Light shows us the way to the Christmas God has in mind – where everyone living in darkness can walk in the Light of the Lord.  God’s giving the Light of the world this Christmas – it’s even brighter than an Arby’s hat or last year’s drive-through light display. 

We don’t need to be afraid of the dark with a flashlight like this. Remember, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

By Rev. Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill

You don’t really know you’re home until you have to navigate it in the dark. You think you know where everything is, where the walls are and how all the furniture is positioned, and where you left everything right up until you have to do it all without light. This revelation came to me as I went to get a glass of water a few nights ago. When I went to bed I had left everything just so, but somehow in the dark as I walked, there were suddenly dog toys, baby toys and someone moved the couch at least a foot. I know this because I stubbed my toe and let out a shriek that could have awakened the dead, but luckily the baby slept right through it. It was in that moment that I better understood God.

The first recorded words of God in Genesis 1:3 are, “Let there be light!” It is not that I think God stubbed His toe or didn’t know where the cosmic couch was, I think God understood that man simply does not do well in the dark.

No matter how well laid out we have our lives, or how we think we have it all together, there are always dark times when we will stub our toe, cry out in pain and be looking for light.  In times of sadness, heartbreak, loss and uncertainty we all find ourselves looking for light. We cry out and wonder how did this get here, how did I get here and why did I not see it. It is in those times that we realize that we desperately need a light.

Luckily for us, there is always a light no matter how dark the time we find ourselves in. You see, when God said, “Let there be light,” he turned on the lights in the heavens so that we could see. Long after that when we had lost our way again, God sent His son Jesus to be the light of the world.

As we enter into the Advent season, take some time to remember that in all the shopping, the planning and the celebrating, we are really celebrating that there is still light in the world. Do not be afraid, do not worry, just remember that God said, “Let there be light,” and His son said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Today and every day, there is light. May you have a joyous and light-filled Advent and a very Merry Christmas.