Epiphany at St. Thomas Church, Liberia
Iâve been reading the report of
Lustration is about light shining, and light overcoming the darkness. Thatâs also what Epiphany is all about â light shining into a world too often living in shadow. And I canât think of a more fitting image in this nation. As Isaiah says, âArise, shine, for your light has come! Darkness may cover the earth, but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will shine around you. Nations will come to your light, and rulers to the brightness of your dawning.â Is
The source of all this light is the presence of love itself in our midst. That light has begun to shine in the darkness, but it hasnât yet penetrated all the dark corners and caves and crevices. Epiphany celebrates the dawning awareness of the nations that this light exists in our midst, in spite of attempts by Herod and others to quench it with darkness.
How does that light work its way into the darkness? It takes the collective work of all sorts of light-reflectors â shepherds, wise ones, even the stars and sheep and oxen gathered to acknowledge light. And it takes the collective and individual will of those who will sing glory to God, those who go home by another road so they will live long enough to tell the story (whether magi or Liberians who left during the troubles), and even sometimes silly fishermen like Peter, as well as all those who fall in love with love itself, starting with Mary Magdalene. It takes reflectors like you and me.
Thereâs a wonderful story told about a boy in
The usual thing that keeps us from doing that reflective work is fear, which is simply a kind of darkness, an unwillingness to look courageously at reality, a forgetting that God is present in the midst of it, and that we donât need to let fear paralyze us. What does the angel, Godâs messenger always start out by saying? âFear not!â What keeps you from reflecting the light within you and around you?
Often it only takes a tiny spark. The people of All Saints Episcopal Church in
Last summer, when the gospel about Jesus feeding the 5000 was read, they said to themselves, âwe can do that! We can feed 5000 people!â And in the next few months they proceeded to do just that. They raised money in all sorts of different ways and funded meals for more than 5000. Last month a college student, who was doing an internship in a local grade school, met a child in tears on Monday morning. This little girl had come to school too late for breakfast, and said she hadnât eaten for a while. The college interns connected the school with a program that sends kids home on Fridays with enough food for the weekend. The folks of All Saints now have a new ministry â coordinating the work of packing sacks of food for about 50 children each week school is in session. This group of faithful people has discovered light in the midst of darkness, and they continue to shine their light wherever hungry people are found.
The darkness around us is lightened through feeding the hungry, and educating children and adults, and healing those wounded in body and soul. Light shines when the soul of a nation is healed as well.
There is need for light in darkness in every part of this world. Americans have our own work to do on issues of poverty and racism, immigration and fear of the stranger, as well as too great a willingness to resort to war and violence. As a Church we continue to repent for our part in the slave trade that engendered some of the pain of
I think many of those answers are right here in this room. Together, we can work together to shine light in darkness, wherever itâs found. May we dream the dream that all Godâs children and all the children of Liberia may come home, and discover a gracious place of healing and wholeness and the continuing presence of the one who loves us all beyond imagining.
Are you willing to dream that dream? Will you be light in the darkness?