Shine as a Light in the World

After writing a sermon last week, I enjoyed writing another one last night…

First Reading – Daniel 7.13-14
As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Gospel Reading – Luke 9.28-36
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

Sermon:

Yesterday I took a trip down to Bramhall Park, and wandered into a hilly area full of trees which lies relatively undisturbed. I like to go there and sit quietly sometimes. Listen to the birds, listen to the wind and the leaves rustling, listen for the still small voice of God as soft rays of light fall down on me through the tree tops.

The sunlight alters the way in which the natural landscape around me, in those days at Bramhall Park, looks. It seems almost magical there sometimes. The light sparkles through the leaves of the trees towering above me, dimly or brightly, softly or warmly, and the way the light moves is a significant part of the peacefulness I can experience in solitude there.

On this our celebration of the Transfiguration of our Lord, we reflect on the Biblical passages that tell us of a very significant part of Jesus’ life – a part so startling that the disciples fall to the floor, terrified. Jesus shines with God’s light, and standing on the mountain showed the disciples that the earthly and the heavenly were in some way connected.

The disciples were amongst the people who probably felt like God had completely deserted them. Or at least, that God wasn’t going to save them from slavery and the wrath of Herod. But the disciples in Jesus’ day, three of them anyway, saw that God was present on the earth with them. They saw Jesus become a radiant source of light. And what do I mean by radiant? Well that it is incredibly bright, and spreads far. As love does. Jesus, the Messiah, God’s anointed, lit the way for a brighter future. God in Jesus gave us a new vision.

When I was confirmed last December, the final words spoken by us all at the very end of the service, as I and those other newly confirmed alongside me held candles in our hands, were “Shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God the Father.” Jesus shone. Jesus was, is, the light of the world. The mother candle if you like from whom our individual candles are lit. As Jesus shone and gave hope to all those trapped by Herod, by slavery, by a terribly unjust world, Jesus shines today in the light of all of those willing to work for the vision of peace he brought to us. We are the body of Christ. We are Christ’s lights because we live in his light. God calls us to follow Jesus in spreading his radiant love across the world.

As Professor Dumbledore has it in the glorious Harry Potter books, “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Bramhall life isn’t particularly dark really is it? But life in Somalia, life in Norway, life in Israel, is. What can we do for them? We can pray. We can keep lit the metaphorical lights in our hearts of hope for a brighter future. And we can sacrifice the latest DVD or snack that we want, and save a young Samalian baby’s life.

We can change the world. Grasp that vision. If we remember what Jesus was all about. What God is all about. What life should be all about. If we remember in everyday life, to “Shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Lord be with you.

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