This “Perspectives on Hope,” encourages reflecting Christ’s justice and peace in the world.
REV. DR. JEROME DEVINE
Director of Connectional Ministries, Detroit Conference
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2, NRSV)
I love the images of emerging light that are so much a part of the mystery and faith of Advent into Christmas. For much of my entire life I have always loved turning on the Christmas tree lights in the early pre-dawn darkness. It seems to have taken on a new depth of meaning for me this year.
Part of that deeper awareness is because of the tension being generated in our own country at this time. Many have articulated a sense of this being a time “thick darkness”. This is further fed by some of the global struggles for people who are marginalized by powers and principalities beyond their control. In the midst of such emotions there is a natural yearning for light to come, and not just any light. There is a genuine yearning for the true Light of God’s just grace to break into our human condition.
Yet, another aspect of the deepening of meaning for me this year is that Ruth and I are now fully living into the “great room” of our home, which used to be a United Methodist sanctuary. Early each morning I come into that space with my cup of coffee while the rest of the household is still resting. When I flip on the switch for the power strip the entire tree lights up, and with that light the room takes on a hopeful energy. With the 10-foot-tall windows and a 14.5-foot tree I know that when I turn on the lights it creates a beacon of light to the early morning drivers going by. I find myself wondering if the light shining out into the darkness gives hope to the people of the small Village of Argentine and to those heading to work in that pre-dawn darkness?
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2b, NRSV)
Even though this former church was deconsecrated, I do feel more visible to the outer community than if I lived in a less unique home. Perhaps it makes me a bit more mindful about what kind of light I reflect into the community. Just as the light emanating from the tree does illuminate the darkness around it, even more so I yearn for the true Light of the Incarnate love of God to emanate from my life and actions so that I might offer reflected light for those struggling to see hope or to find a way forward in places made dark by the injustice of others.
We can become so romantically infatuated with the image of a baby in a manger that we forget the powerful proclamation of why the birth took place in the first place:
“For a child has been born for us, …; authority rests upon his shoulders; …there shall be endless peace… He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness…” (Isaiah 9: 6-7, NRSV)
I paused in the middle of the day last Saturday just to look closely at the Christmas tree we have decorated this year. Our household has been a bit hectic in recent weeks, which I am sure many of you could attest to for your own lives. I wanted to simply be present to a symbol of the holy season. As I drew close to the tree I was struck by how the light coming in through the large windows was now being reflected on some of the Christmas bulbs on the tree.
It was a moment of grace and a reminder. If I am to be a reflector of the Light then I need to also spend time allowing the Light to reflect into me, into my thoughts, my actions, my strategies, my commitments. If Christ came to “establish … endless peace” and to “uphold it with justice and with righteousness”, then those values and that reign are what will need to permeate me if I am to be some kind of reflection of that peace back into the world.
May you and I find the spaces and times to allow the Light of Christ to shine on and into you in the days ahead, so that we can live out a reflection of that justice and peace to the world.