Ahhh, Epiphany, the season of light. But it seems there is a weariness and darkness pervading this otherwise illumined time of year. Do you feel it? See it? Scripture says we are all children of light, but to be honest, friends, we all may be stumbling a bit these days. Perhaps that’s why, on the shortest darkest day of 2020, the winter solstice last month, we experienced a bona fide cosmic event that manifested in a brilliant and, shall I say, familiar star--a tangible visible sign that our Creator God is at work.
In Genesis 1:3, the very first creative act, before days even existed to number the first day… “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” As a young child hearing this I wondered what it meant. As I grew older, I understood that the verb “Let” used here is fashioned in the ‘royal sense,’ as in “Let us be seated.” Maybe you’ve responded before to the “royal ‘we’” at your house before? Interesting little theological fun fact: in the creation account in Genesis, the “royal sense” does contain the authority necessary to compel everyone to sit; it does not however, convey the absolute authority which demands assent. In other words, the queen may have to speak twice.
In actuality, the Hebrew word for “Let” is yeh; in Latin, fiat Lux, neither of which could be confused with the ‘royal sense’. The literal translation is ‘light exist’ and it is a statement of absolute authority, as the result of speaking it immediately causes light to exist with no second word necessary. This is how we understand the author of the universe “speaking” our world into existence.
In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus exclaims, “I am the light of the world” (8:12) as a declarative statement not open to debate. His self-identification is a proclamation of absolute authority and a connection to the Creation event itself. Speaking it so makes it so. Perhaps in our current “muted” existence (I mean this term both literally and also metaphorically), when our lives are “on hold,” suspended, upended, waiting, wondering, wandering, that once again our Creator God and our Lord and savior are speaking light into our darkest corners. It’s brand new. And it’s all for you.
Each Epiphany season we are reminded that Christ came to save the world, to shine the “Light of Life” to all people. The Light of God, whether the illumination of the cosmos or the illumination within the soul of every human being, is the light that leads through the darkness of self-doubt and wandering to true peace and love. Campus Minister Aimee Joseph wrote to her University of San Diego students, “We are all created to crave the Creator, our Father, and only through a relationship with our Savior Jesus can the dark parts of our hearts brighten. When I admit I am not enough, I’m freed to run and cling to the God who is.” That nagging sense that I am not enough is a result of the “Light shining in the darkness” of my soul and illuminating the pathway to joy and felicity.
You have received the Light of Life into your heart and soul through the waters of Baptism and continue to grow in the Light through your worship and devotion. Mark this Epiphany 2021 as the moment when you resolve to truly embrace the Light and to shine forth that light for those who cannot as yet see.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Father Bill Burk†