Shine! – Candlemas Jan 29 2023
January 29th 2023 Mal.3:1-5, Ps.24, Heb.2:14-end, Lk.2:22-40
God our creator, who in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of darkness; we pray that the light of the gospel of Christ may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief – shine into the world, shine into our communities, shine into the hearts of all your people … come Holy Spirit, empower us to be your messengers to shine your light into a world in need.
A simple candle is such a powerful symbol isn’t it? It draws us in – it attracts us – it reveals things to us – even the smallest light pushes back the darkness and changes the space around us – it transforms the world that we are currently inhabiting –
Our scripture readings remind us of the transforming power of Jesus in the world:
Jesus as Messenger: preparing the future by refining his creation and enabling a state of wholeness and righteousness before God the Father.
Jesus as Saviour: making atonement for our sins, enabling us to have clean hands and a pure heart before God the Father.
Jesus as Light: bringing peace – bringing revelation – bringing glory –
Jesus was presented in the Temple as was the custom; a baby – small and vulnerable yet already making life changing impact upon those who see Him and recognise who he is. Simeon and Anna are both changed by their encounter with the infant Christ. Described by Simeon as a ‘Light’ – he goes further. He will be the cause of the rising and the falling of many. Believers are raised up – excited – transformed – empowered through knowing Him. Others are brought low, confused, frustrated, outraged at his teaching – they cannot, they will not accept his claims, his message, his identity. For many years I was in this category; wanting to know Jesus as many of my friends did, but wanting to know Him on my terms. I wanted Jesus to fit my lifestyle, my thoughts, my desires but the truth of what he was saying to me just didn’t allow that as an option. I found the truth frustrating to deal with. But for those like Simeon and Anna who realise that God has sent His Son in plain view of all people to make a difference – lives are changed for ever.
Charlie Mackesy, author of the book ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’ relates a story of his friend, a Hospital Chaplain.
‘Whenever my friend visited the sick in hospital a man would make rude gestures every time he passed his bed. One day the man called out to him. “Oy! Can I have a word? I want to ask some questions. Why do you wear that white thing around your neck? What do you believe?” “Sure” he said; “what would you like to know?” So the patient asked his questions and the Chaplain told him about Jesus, about grace and forgiveness, about the light and love of God and the relationship you can have with him and that you can pray to him. “Well how do you pray then?” the man asked. “Well it’s pretty simple actually” he replied. He stood up and said “That’s your bed – there you are and there’s your chair. Now imagine Jesus is sitting in this chair and he’s just loving you permanently – he knows you and you can talk to him and you can say whatever you like to Him. So; what would you say?” “ I’d probably say ‘I’m pretty scared right now.” he replied. “Ok … then tell him that. What else would you say?“
The man continued: “Well, I’ve messed up my life and I’m sorry.” “Great” the Chaplain replied, “That’s honest. What else?” “I don’t know” “Well … you can sit in silence … just remember he’s there – keep talking and listening and remember you’re loved and he died for you and remember that you’re free.” “Thanks” he replied – “That sounds good” The chaplain left the hospital.
A few days later he went back and passed the bed – it was empty. He asked the nurse if he’d moved and he was told that the man had died two days after he’d chatted to him. “I’m sorry to hear that” he replied. The nurse continued: “When you left the other day, he was sort of bouncy in bed and kept telling us what you told him about the chair and this Jesus thing and he was overwhelmingly pleased about it all.” “That’s good” he said and started walking off. The staff nurse stopped him. “There’s something else you should know and it’s a big strange. When we found him on the morning he’d died, he was found leaning out of his bed. His hips were on the bed but he’d pulled the chair towards him. His chest was resting on the chair and his arms were wrapped around the back of it. He died like that.”
The chaplain started weeping because he realised the man had understood the whole thing. The light and reality of Jesus had transformed him. He got it completely. He understood that he was loved. He understood the reason he existed was to love and be loved and that he could rest his whole life and his fragility on Jesus. His eyes had seen the light and the salvation of Jesus.
We never know what impact or effect our words may have on those we speak to and share the love and the light of Jesus with. Let’s just keep sharing it. It makes a difference.