07/05/2015 – Ruth 4:13-17 – “Full of Grace and Ruth”

Mark Wheeler

Ruth 4:13-17

“Full of Grace and Ruth”

July 5, 2015

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Remove, O Lord, any tension or anxiety, any stress or worry, anything, which may keep us from fulfilling Your wishes of who we could be. Fill us with the grace of the Father, the strength of the Son, and the hope of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

This past month has been one of those months when we realize how difficult following Jesus can be:

Hate-filled tragedy in Charleston, terrorist attacks, global financial instability (Greece), US Supreme Court decisions, legal and political posturing from candidates and government employees, at least 7 predominantly Black churches (from several denominations) burned to the ground in the last 10 days!, social media bombardment.

Many people outside the Church, and just as many inside the Church, feel discouraged, disheartened, and disoriented.

Some are feeling hopeless, helpless, vulnerable, and alone.

Can anyone here relate to any of that?

You are not all on your own!

We are in a series which explores the depth and the height of God’s Grace – how it is more than we deserve and how it is greater than we can imagine. Our scripture today comes from the Old Testament story about a woman named Ruth. How many of you have read (or heard) this story before? This Old Testament story of Ruth is in the context of despair, depression and doom.

The story starts with the news of a severe famine in southern Israel, surrounding the town of Bethlehem, a little more than 1,000 years before Jesus was born. The famine was so severe that families were packing up and moving into neighboring, semi-enemy, countries, including Naomi and her husband and two sons. But once they got settled, Naomi’s husband died; and her two sons married women from this enemy territory, and then her two sons also died! Naomi was suddenly a widowed mother with no living children!

So she decides to go back home, traveling by herself, to be with relatives who knew her customs and religion. Talk about despair and depression and doom; hopeless, helpless, vulnerable, and alone! Have you ever wondered if you might never escape the misery you were in? Darkness, fear, abandonment, estrangement … It is a terribly lonely experiencenobody, and it feels like no God!

But then this Old Testament story of Ruth also speaks of HOPE and GRACE.

One of her widowed daughters-in-law decides to go with her. Ruth was her name. She tells Naomi, “Your people will be my people (think how huge that would be – she left her own homeland and family to be with this strange mother-in-law and her extended family!), and your God will be my God (and this is even bigger than moving into a strange community – it’s a strange community and their stranger religion!).

So these two widowed women, unrelated except by marriage, move into town with no job, no family, no means of support, no children or grandchildren, no hope ….

And God provides a job, more food than they can eat, and the attention of a handsome, wealthy, land-owner, farm-manager who falls in love with Ruth and eventually wins her to himself. From the Jewish heritage in which they lived, his title was “kinsman redeemer”. He saved her, and her mother-in-law, from destitution, and he saved them for God’s plan of Redemption for humankind.

We read in Ruth 4:13-17 (almost the end of the book) where …. —-

13 … Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

May God bless the reading, hearing, receiving of His Word which never fails.

Some of you will remember that way back in Genesis 12, God called Abram from the land of Ur and Promised him a new Land, and a Nation, and a people, and that one of his offspring would be a Savior for the world. And before that in Genesis 6, God promised a first salvation through Noah and that there would be a second salvation for God’s people. And before that in Genesis 3, God promised Adam and Eve that one of their offspring would crush the head of Satan and be a Savior for the people.

The story of this desperate foreigner woman named Ruth invites us into God’s perfect story of His perfect grace.

Almost without any regard for how valuable and important this information is, we are told, that “they named [their son] Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Who was David? Does anyone know? Yup, the second-greatest King Israel has ever had! Who was the first-greatest King? C’mon – someone say it: Jesus!

Are you ready for some hope and grace?

1,000 years after Ruth, her ultimate descendant is JESUS, the Savior who comes full of Grace and Truth.

John’s Gospel tells us this truth with poetic beautyJohn 1: (*read with breaks at the asterisks to explain some key points) “1In the beginning* was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God*. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made*; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind*…. 14The Word became flesh* and made His dwelling among us*. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son, who came from the Father*, full of Grace and Truth*…. 17For the law was given through Moses; Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ*!

I am going to close early this morning, because we are about to move into a time of prayer, where I know some of you are living with some sincere fears and worries, some anxieties about uncertainties, recovering from surgeries and preparing for treatments, and still hearing the national and local news reports about how people suffer at the hands of other people, by natural disaster, because of less-than-smart decisions – and some of those people are very close to our hearts.

We feel discouraged, disheartened, and disoriented; hopeless, helpless, vulnerable, and alone.

But follow the story of Ruth. Her story leads directly to Grace and Hope – we can live lives full of Grace and Ruth – simply by trusting in the One who is the Way and the Truth and the LifeGod’s perfect propitiation and expiation for our sins and our struggles.

Right after the prayer and our offering, we will be invited to the Lord’s Table where we might just experience God’s gift of Grace and where we might receive ruth-ful Hope.

And may we never forget the challenge of Hebrews 12:15: “Let no one fall short of the grace of God.” Let’s pass God’s invitation on to our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, our co-workers, our classmates; let’s invite them to come into contact with the GRACE of God! Amen. 

“Dear God, by Your transforming grace, help Your church point beyond itself through word and work to the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord. Fill this room again, with Holy Spirit power take hold of each person that is open to Your spiritual gifts and anoint us in ways everyone will know is from You. Fill this place, ignite our faith, fan the flame, and burn brightly through Your people into our neighborhoods, by Your Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Resources:

Fellowship Community; 8134 New LaGrange Road; Suite 227; Louisville, KY; 40222; invite to Annual Conference in August 2015.

Lucado, Max; Grace: More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine; Thomas Nelson; Nashville, TN; 2012; Pp. 66-75.

03/01/2015 – John 8:12 – “Why We Need a Light”

Mark Wheeler
March 1, 2015
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
John 8:12
“Why We Need a Light”

Dear God, thank You for bringing us all here to this place. Help us to open our eyes, our ears, our minds, our hearts, and our spirits to better understand who You are and to know You more. Please be with us as we draw near to You and closer to one another. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

We have seen from the Old Testament book of Exodus – where God told Moses who God is. Do you remember what God said when Moses asked Him, “Who do I tell people You are?” God said, “Tell them ‘I-AM has sent me to you.’”

Today, and for the next several weeks we are in the New Testament Gospel according to John – because the Apostle John records some fascinating ways Jesus also answers Moses’ question. Jesus uses a specific Greek grammar formula to incorporate God’s “I-AM” identification into His own distinctive identity.
In most of the world’s languages one can say “I am” without ever speaking the 1st person personal pronoun “I”. In Spanish one can say “soy”, and that means “I am”, or one could say “yo soy” which is a more distinctive way of saying “I am”. In German it could be “bin” or “ich bin”. In French, either “suis” or “Je suis”. In the Greek of the New Testament, either “Eime” or “Ego eime”. When Jesus used the more distinctive version of “I am” He was making a direct divine reference to God’s “I- AM” – and His hearers would have made that connection immediately.
When we turn to John 8:12 and we read where Jesus says, “Yo soy la luz del mundo”, “Ich bin das Licht der Welt”, “Je suis la lumiere du monde”, “Ego eime to phos tou kosmou”, “I-AM the light of the world!” He was straight-out saying, “I-AM God”!

At the risk of sounding kinda dumb, asking a question with a stupidly obvious answer, I’m gonna boldly ask it anyway. “Why would the world need ‘light’?” What good is a little light? For those who are on the Internet/Facebook (or probably TV) – you saw the controversy over “what color is the dress?” Was it blue and black or white and gold? All determined by the light refractions.

We spent much of January talking about the season of Epiphany, the liturgical season of “light”. When we have an “aha” moment we call that an epiphanal moment, when the cartoon figure gets a lightbulb over its head, when we finally see the light.
We are investing these Sundays leading up to Easter looking carefully at some of the places in John’s Gospel where Jesus sheds a little more light on His identity by using a variety of “I- AM” statements (last week was “I- AM the bread of life”, this week is “I- AM the light of the world”.

But look at the context of today’s statement.
This follows immediately on the heels of the story where a woman caught in the act of adultery is arrested and brought before Jesus (the Jewish officials were trying to catch Jesus in some kind of bind – “what will He do now?”). And Jesus does the amazing thing of revealing the truth that every Jewish official who caught this woman and brought her to Jesus was also guilty of sin.
“The one among you who has not ever sinned may throw the first stone at her.” And one-by-one, people dropped their stones and walked away.
How was that for a light-of-the-world moment! Stop condemning each other, stop hating, stop pointing out each other’s sins – and stop condemning yourself as well (condemnation is only for God to do)!
And then Jesus says to the woman, “Now go on living, but stop your sinning, too!”

I cannot imagine a more en-light-ening declaration! I am forgiven – free and clear. Now, Wheeler, sin no more!
You are forgiven – completely – of every malicious act, every evil inclination, every thought of retribution – forgiven!
Now stop doing it any more!

The fact that Jesus sheds this light on everyone – the world – does not make it any easier to live out.
What is the AA motto? One day at a time. Our Christian faith motto could probably be: one moment at a time.
Jesus shines His light on the Jewish officials, and they grudgingly walk away, recognizing their own guilt against God and against humanity – we hope they walked away confessing their sin and repenting, and praying for strength and wisdom to be obedient to God’s Word the next moment when temptation comes their way.
And then Jesus shines His light on the woman – on her forgiveness first, and then He gives her the same command He gave her accusers – “Go and sin no more.”

We Evangelical Christians too quickly jump to the command Jesus gave to the woman – and forget that He also called the accusers to recognize their own participation in a world of false condemnation – false not because the sin was not real, but because it came from one guilty party against another. We Evangelical Christians need to keep our eyes open to the light of God’s whole Word – not just the words we like.
But we more progressive Christians also need to read this whole Gospel story and recognize that sin is real – and that Jesus does, in fact, call all of us to step outside of sinful living! As an ordained Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) I promise to accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to me. That means that what the Scriptures call sin, I also must call sin, and stop doing.

I struggle with how to live that out. I do not want to be condemning, but I have friends and colleagues, brothers and sisters, who feel condemned by me. I also do not want to simply condone that which God seems to condemn. So, I take the advice of James 1:5, “If you lack wisdom, ask God, who is generous to give to all who ask.”
I pray for God’s light to shine in ways that clearly mark out the steps God wants me to take.
I also admit that sometimes I choose to ignore God’s light, God’s Word, God’s command, and I do what is more convenient or more to my personal understanding of self-interest. Today, I confess that tendency to you, and to our Lord.

Your Sermon Notes Page lists several Bible passages demonstrating the definition and the purpose of God’s Light.

As we come to the Lord’s Table in just a few minutes, see if you can fill out those Bible verses, and pray for proper understanding of how they apply to you today.
And may we come to this Table of Communion, clear of any condemnation and full of compassion, and seeking God’s light, revealed through Jesus, His living Word. It is, after all, a Table of Communion with God and with one another. Amen.

Let’s pray: Holy God, we ask You to fill us with Your light. Shine Your light through us into the situations and encounters we will face in this coming week. May others see You and Your way more clearly because of seeing Your light in our lives. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Eternal Light, who shows us the way. Amen.

Resources:
Book of Order; Presbyterian Church (USA); 2013-’15; W-4.4003.
Fuquay, Rob; The God We Can Know: Exploring the “I Am” Sayings of Jesus (Adult Group Guide); Upper Room Books; Nashville, TN; 2014; Pp. 16-21.

Matthew 2:1-12 – The identity of the Savior

Mark Wheeler
January 25, 2015
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Matthew 2:1-12
“The Identity of the Savior”

We so deeply need the love of our heavenly Father, dear God. Fill us with faith and faithfulness. Conquer our fears and heal our hurts. Comfort us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might recognize Your light in our darkness. Amen.

I have lived and worked with poor people several times in my life – I grew up in an upper-middle class family, mostly in Southern CA, but I went to High School with a mix of my upper-middle class neighbors and those who lived in the barrio of that town, low-income Mexican immigrants; our church adopted an orphanage in Baja CA, poverty stricken children dropped off by parents who could not afford to raise their own children; a government subsidized un-incorporated town in the wealthiest county in the nation; and two weeks ago on a Native village island in the Bering Strait.
In addition to the physical darkness of such places, there often exists a spiritual darkness that is much more consuming. But there is also often a spiritual bright spot that the darkness cannot overcome! At Valencia High School, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church gave hope and nourishment to its larger community; El Sauzal Orphanage serves the needs of dozens of hungry, homeless and frightened children every day; St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, along with 6 other churches, fill Marin City with music of worship and care for those in need; and Shishmaref Lutheran Church offers a place of grace and truth to a community without so much that we just take for granted.
These are ministries and individuals who are known as living examples of hospitality and care and God’s love by everyone willing to experience their service.
One story: Clifford Weyiouanna, a widowed elder on the Inupiaq island of Shishmaref, opens his home 7-days-a-week, anytime after 9:00am for sour dough hotcakes, bottomless cups of coffee, and warm Christ-filled fellowship, to anyone/everyone who knocks on his door – and then he offers his Snow Mobile or his sled or his knowledge or advice to anyone in need. And he does this simply because he knows how much God loves him through Jesus Christ and he wants to reflect that love with his whole life! Because of people like Clifford Weyiouanna, Shishmaref is known by every village in the Bering Strait School District as the friendliest place on earth! That is their identity!

Today is the fourth Sunday in the Season of Epiphany! January 6, is Epiphany. At Christmas, we celebrate the coming of light in the birth of Jesus. On Epiphany, in the Western Church we celebrate the manifestation of Christ’s light to all the world, as represented by the Gentile Magi from the East that visit the Christ Child.
The Greek word from which we get the word “Epiphany” is the verb phainein (“to show forth, to manifest, to bring to light, to cause to appear”). It is a sudden revelation or discovery (“I had an epiphany today!”), those moments when we say we “saw the light” – a “lightbulb moment!”.
In addition to being a Feast Day in the Church, Epiphany is a season in the life of the Church, continuing through Transfiguration Sunday (February 15, 2015), the Sunday before the season of Lent begins. Throughout this season of Epiphany, I have spent time in prayer, reflecting on two questions:
* Where or when has Jesus shown Himself to me today?
* Where or when did Jesus give me the opportunity to show forth His light today?

We experience great light in the truth that God did, and does, show up. Jesus did come. For us and for our salvation. This truth changes everything.

Hear the Word of God from the New Testament Gospel according to Matthew2:1-12 …. —-
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet [Micah] has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
May God bless the reading, the hearing, the receiving of His Word which never fails.

When the Magi hear of the one who has been born King of the Jews, they set out on a journey to find Him and to worship Him. Unlike the chief priests and teachers of the law, these Gentile Magi aren’t familiar with Micah’s prophecy concerning the location of Jesus’ birth. They assume it would be Jerusalem, where the royal palace is. Imagine their surprise when they learn His birthplace is in one of the “least among” the towns of Judah – in Bethlehem. They had expected the Messiah to show up in the royal palace, the rightful place of a king. Instead, He shows up in the most unexpected of places – an obscure house in an even more obscure town.
Think back over the past year, month, week. When have you seen God show up in unexpected places or at unexpected times in your life? In this church? In our community? In the world? At our Annual Meeting right after worship today, there will be a time to share those stories with the rest of us.

The Magi aren’t the only ones who want to worship Jesus. Herod also says he wants to worship Him (v. 8). Yet, as we learn later in the verses that follow, Herod’s intentions were very different from the Magi’s.
In this passage, we see two contrasting ways of seeking Jesus. One is marked by worship, the other by fear. One is characterized by receptivity, the other by hostility. One is governed by divine leading, the other by self-leading. The Magi know a King has been born, and they let His star’s light lead them to the Light. Yet when Herod receives the same knowledge of God’s plan, he plots to use it, not to promote God’s will, but his own.
But before we are too quick to judge Herod, consider our own motive: Do our goals and plans tend to promote more of God’s agenda or our own? How often do we resist the true king of the world and insist on being our own king? Like Herod, we often try to solve life’s problems and predicaments through control or self-protection or the insistence that we will receive what is rightfully ours.
But the Christ child is to be found in receiving, not grasping; in releasing, not claiming our rights.

Spend a few minutes reflecting on the past week. When have you resisted Jesus’ kingship over your life? When has your life been marked more by fear and control and less by worship?
Remember those two questions I have been asking myself – and which I encourage you to ask yourself every day – 1) Where or when has Jesus shown Himself to me today?
2) Where or when did Jesus give me the opportunity to show forth His light today?

Several hundred years before the Magi arrived at Herod’s palace, Isaiah (chapter 60) prophesied of a time when all nations and kings would be drawn to Jerusalem to see the King. The future scene that Isaiah paints is one of celebration and majesty. But at the time of his prophecy, the scene for the people of Judah was far from celebratory and majestic. As described in the first 39 chapters of the book, Isaiah has warned Judah of the judgment and exile about to come. Even now, they have begun to experience some of the predicted oppression and decline. Isaiah’s assurance of a future hope sounded like anything but reality in their hopeless present.
But that’s exactly the purpose of Isaiah’s prophecy: To give hope, not in the future, but in the present, because of the glory that will come … and is here now.
Isaiah doesn’t say, “Arise, shine, for your light will come”; he says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come” (v. 1). Isaiah acknowledges that there is darkness over the earth and the peoples. “But,” he says, “the LORD rises upon you, and His glory appears over you” (v. 2).

At Advent and Christmas, we celebrate the coming of our King at Bethlehem. We also look with anticipation to that future day when He will come again. Like Isaiah’s time, we, too, may see all kinds of darkness in the world and in our own lives. Yet, as followers of Christ, we are called to bear witness to His glory in the midst of the darkness, no matter how hopeful or hopeless things feel.
Twenty-seven hundred years after Isaiah’s prophecy and 2,000 years after the visit of the Magi, darkness still covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples. But thanks be to God, as we read last Sunday, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). As we seek to follow and bear witness to that Light, may you and I proclaim the reality that, “… the LORD rises upon us, and his glory appears over us” – even and especially when circumstances feel like anything but ….
We have an influence on the world around us!

Where is the Holy Spirit of God calling you to “arise” (Isaiah 60: 1) and bear witness to the hope we have in Jesus Christ? Where in your community or in the world might Jesus be inviting you to be a source of light and hope – to the end that “nations will come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your dawn … proclaiming the praise of the LORD”?
Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.

Resources:
Lock, Nicole; “The Identity of the Savior”; For Us and For Our Salvation: An Advent, Christmas and Epiphany Experience; Fellowship Community; 2014.

John 1:1-14 – “The Mission of the Savior”

Mark Wheeler
January 18, 2015
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
John 1:1-14
“The Mission of the Savior”

We so deeply need the love of our heavenly Father, dear God. Fill us with faith and faithfulness. Conquer our fears and heal our hurts. Comfort us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might recognize Your light in our darkness. Amen.

Wow, is it good to be back home! For those of you on FaceBook, I have posted pics and told stories of my trip to Alaska; for the rest of us, maybe in February we’ll plan a day to share my stories and photos. But, just to get the stories started, what I may be most glad for in coming back to Spokane is … flush toilets!
Anyway, I offer huge THANKS to Kathy Samuel and Gene Peden for leading our worship experiences. And Kathy Sandusky for preaching and offering Communion. And I trust Zach Merkling and Bruce Sexton blessed you with God’s Word, too.

Today is the third Sunday in the Season of Epiphany! January 6, is Epiphany. At Christmas, we celebrate the coming of light in the birth of Jesus. On Epiphany, in the Western Church we celebrate the manifestation of Christ’s light to all the world, as represented by the Gentile Magi from the East that visit the Christ Child.
The Greek word from which we get the word “Epiphany” is the verb phainein (“to show forth, to manifest, to bring to light, to cause to appear”). It is a sudden revelation or discovery (“I had an epiphany today!”), those moments when we say we “saw the light” – a “lightbulb moment!”.
In addition to being a Feast Day in the Church, Epiphany is a season in the life of the Church, continuing through Transfiguration Sunday (February 15, 2015), the Sunday before the season of Lent begins. Throughout this season of Epiphany, I have spent some time in prayer and reflecting on two questions:
* Where or when has Jesus shown Himself to me today?
* Where or when did Jesus give me the opportunity to show forth His light today?

In his translation of II Corinthians 4:5-6 in The Message, Eugene Peterson captures beautifully the manifestation of Jesus’ light and what that manifestation means for us today: “Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.”

We experience great light in the truth that God did, and does, show up. Jesus did come. For us and for our salvation. This truth changes everything.

Hear the Word of God from the New Testament Gospel according to John 1:1-14 …. —-
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
May God bless the reading, the hearing, the receiving of His Word which never fails.

At this point, let me assure you that I realize that the Seahawks play at noon today – and I promise to forgive anyone who feels the need to leave before we’re done, if it seems I am taking too long. But I also promise to properly proclaim the Word of God … in a timely manner.

Take another look at verses 9-11: This totally emphasizes that, no matter how much darkness we encounter – in Shishmaref, AK, the sky started to lighten at about 10:45 and the sun broke the horizon at about 12:00noon; and then it disappeared at about 3:00pm and the sky was dark by 5 – physical darkness which allowed me to actually feel the emotional darkness that so many feel every day of their lives – no matter how much darkness we encounter, Jesus is the True Light, that enlightens everyone!
Jesus really is the Light of the World!
This is key! The Light of Christ is for everyone – for God so loved the whole world He gave His only begotten Son!

Remember those two questions I have been asking myself – and which I encourage you to ask yourself every day – 1) Where or when has Jesus shown Himself to me today?
2) Where or when did Jesus give me the opportunity to show forth His light today?

It is true that not everyone will receive the Light of Christ – just think about how the truth that Jesus is the Light for Everyone effects our witness of Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter every day!

In his book called The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis wrote: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
We have an influence on the world around us!

When we consider this passage from John 1 and the fact that Jesus came for all, as well as the C.S. Lewis quote, how might our interaction with others today and this week be different?
WHO is God bringing to your heart and mind today that is in need of the light?
How might you pray for them?
How might you love them well?

Amen.

Resources:
Lewis, C.S.; The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses; MacMillan Pub. Co.; NY,NY; 1980 (originally 1949); Pp. 18-19.