Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.
January 6, 2019
O.T.: Isaiah 60:1-4, N.T.: John 1:1-14
The Christmas season has ended. We’re putting our lights away. The merriment, the parties, the swollen crowds are gone. Pittsburgh’s First Night fireworks are done. Winter’s darkness has descended upon the Three Rivers.
It was such a time, long ago, that Jesus’ appeared in Jerusalem’s Temple to teach. The annual Festival of Tabernacles had ended with its seven nights of spectacular torch dancing, oil lamps, and music filling the air. Jerusalem’s streets had been ablaze with light that reached far into the Judean countryside under a full moon. Thousands of pilgrim campfires had covered the hills. They surrounded the City of David with a golden glow for a week. Joy filled Jerusalem.
But now the city streets were dark. The pilgrim caravans were subdued as silence returned to the region. During the day of quiet Sabbath rest, Jesus arrived in the Temple. Only the celebration’s memory remained. The glow from thousands of lights had vanished. There, in the restored House of David, Jesus’ wisdom illuminated the darkness.
“I am the light of the world. They who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Listen in the silence of this season after Christmas, for Christ’s voice talking to you. “I am the light of the world. They who follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
He is the light through which to see your way when the darkness returns.
Where Jesus is present, there is no darkness that will engulf you so that you cannot see God’s light in the world. There is no shadow that’s so deep that you cannot find your way forward.
His Light has come. His Light is here. His Light is with you. His Light is leading you. His Light is the source of your life energy. His Light is your peace.
His Light is the way that stretches before you towards the glory of God’s Kingdom. His Light is the direction to salvation that frees you from fear.
There are stars to give you direction at night. The sun points the way by day. But Christ’s Light burns brighter beyond nature’s directional finders the Creator has made. It is this light, His Light which is God’s glory.
There are many unknowns that lie ahead. There are obvious dangers to avoid. There are promising places that offer relief. But there’s only one Light that gives us sight.
He is the beacon that reaches through darkness for souls both lost and found. He is the flame that illuminates the sin sick world around. He is your way, your truth, your life. His radiance lifts you above the strife.
Turn to the Light with your thoughts and your tears. Turn to the Light with your sorrows and fears.
Look through the prism of His Light with your heart, soul, and mind. Discover the many colors of God’s beauty for the peace of mankind.
It was 25 years ago, after Christmas when my fraternity executive became unexpectedly ill. His illness did not go away. His friends became quite alarmed. Eventually, he learned he had not long to celebrate life with the fraternity he led, and the friends with whom he sang in the Philadelphia Singing City Choir.
He had been away from Church for a long time. But now as the darkness was closing in about him, he turned to a fellow fraternity member for hope.
“I don’t have long to live, Pastor Jack. Help me to find the way. I’ve had many doubts and questions in my faith. I’ve felt condemned by other Christians. I’ve led a happy life away from the Church. I have many friends who understand me. We have shared many wonderful experiences in the journey of life.
“But now, everything has changed. Where am I going?”
He told me about singing in Jerusalem with the Philadelphia choir, the wonderful memory of taking the heavenly music of the ages to the place where Jesus walked. He shared the cleansing he felt whenever he sang Handel’s Messiah, especially at Christmas and Easter in Jerusalem.
The music of the Messiah had been his lifeline to God.
Now as life’s shadows were drawing near, he yearned for God’s love.
“Dale,” I said, “Remember what Jesus said, ‘I am the Light of the World. They who follow me will not walk in darkness but will have the Light of Life.’ Christ’s light inspired Handel to compose Messiah. This is the joy you felt when you sang the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Let His light lead you forward now.
“Let His light shine from your heart, your mind, your eyes, your words. Let His light overcome your fears. His light is God’s grace. Live in His light.”
Jesus Christ arrived for Dale. He grew stronger in his trust in God. He felt God’s presence with him that gave him renewed strength and hope. He was reconciled with his parents and his brother during those final months of his life.
He was reconciled with many who he had felt rejected him.
Christ’s light will come to you, too, wherever you are in life’s journey when you yearn for it in the quiet of life. His Light is the bright star of hope that brings God’s grace into the world.