Light for All People
God calls us today to move Into the light, God’s light. The light- which shines on all people and all things without exception. The light- which never goes out because its source is God. The light- which God asks us to share with each other and all people.
Matthew tells us that Jesus “withdrew” into Galilee after John the Baptist was arrested- the very region into which Isaiah in our first reading this morning says a great light will dawn.
However, Jesus’ move to Galilee Seems less like a move forward into light than a journey into the lion’s den.
As Matthew will divulge later, the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas, is the one who had John arrested and eventually killed.
The region to which Jesus travelled had long ago been conquered by Rome and was ruled by a Roman puppet whom few Jews regarded as authentically Jewish.
Herod Antipas was notorious for his brutality and for his intolerance of any who threatened his claims to absolute power.
Into this context of danger and darkness and death comes Jesus, proclaiming deliverance and light and life.
It is a kingdom or realm of light- Sharing, Loving, Valuing all equally without distinction… The light pouring equally in all directions.
Quite the contrast with Herod’s kingdom- A place where the rich and powerful are favored- Where money talks- And lots of money talks loudly, Drowning out the voices of the poor, the needy, those who are different.
Under Herod’s administration the few who dared to proclaim or even think differently than the Roman rulers had their heads cut off, Like Jesus’ cousin John, Or were crucified, Like Jesus himself.
Just like John, In the midst of this tumultuous political upheaval Jesus calls people to repent.
The Greek verb “repent” (metanoeo), like the Hebrew verb “repent” (shub), means “turn around.”
Repentance in biblical thought involves not merely apology, but change: change of direction, change your behavior, change your life.
Repentance involves walking into light.
For the first disciples- that walk into the light changes everything.
Jesus goes out for a morning stroll by the lake and encounters two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, hard at work fishing.
“Follow me,” he says, “and I will make you fish for people.” Without comments or questions, Peter and Andrew abandon the tools of their trade and follow him.
In the second scene Jesus sees another set of brothers, James and John the sons of Zebedee, in a boat with their father.
Jesus calls them, too.
In the midst of this stagnant and imperialistic social scene Jesus calls his disciples in Galilee to a new way of life in the reign of God.
He calls us to live into the same light today. Allowing us to move forward into whatever our future brings without fear.
We need to hear this message of light And of equality, And of love and hope once again as we begin this new year And to be honest- As we begin this new administrationWith President Trump.
There- I’ve said it. The T Word.
Since November I’ve been hearing lots of depressing talk sky is falling messages- and just plain despair.
And in equal measure- From others- An unthinking elation that With this election a long sought change has finally come.
No matter what your political leanings are- It’s in the air, folks.
In families all around us, In neighborhoods, Including our own, There is strife and discord over what the future may bring.
But never more than now, We need to hear- All of us- All of us- THAT Nothing can stop or dim or extinguish the love and light of Christ If we will only turn toward it.
No one ruler No adversity, No change in circumstance, Can deter the disciples of Christ, As long as we all keep turning toward the light-
The light of God enlightened Isaiah the prophet, John the Baptist, Our friend and savior Jesus, And Matthew the Evangelist.
My friends- That light still shines as brightly today as it did then.
It shines the same on this weekend After the Inauguration- As it did before the election.
Light for all people, Light undimmed, Light which calls us from despair, And not caring for others- Into a mission of fishing for souls.
From the Breviary of St Helena- A group of Anglican nuns- Yes there is such a thing- Comes this prayer-adapted for Epiphany: Let us Pray- You, O Christ, are the Light: * the might and goodness of fatherhood.
You are the Light:* the wisdom and kindness of motherhood. You, O Christ, are the Light: the light and grace of all blessed love; * you are Trinity; you are Unity.
You, O Christ, are the Light; * the high sovereign goodness of all manner of things.
You are the One who makes us to love;* you are the One who makes us to long.
You, O Christ, are the Light: * the endless fulfilling of all our true desires. Amen.