John 1: 1-18

Not Just An Ordinary Light!

People respond to light. Sunlight brings people out to work and play. This celestial body of light, the sun provides energy and life for living things. Moonlight and starlight give us something to watch in the otherwise dark night sky. Some people look for other life-forms in the stars that lie deep in outer space.

There are other sources of light of which some are taken for granted, others are spectacular and provide amusement, while others are just simply ignored and passed by. There’s electric light. We flick a switch and the light comes on, we don’t even give it a second thought unless it doesn’t come on. Then we call Dewe Electrical and ask for Martin to come and fix it. There are all sorts of electric light, ranging form spot light to flood light, from clear and frosted to fluorescent and coloured light.

There’s light made from chemicals. Batteries, black powder, candles, matches, some oil and gasses can be ignited to burn and produce a light. In a recent Christmas toy catalogue, a Light Stick was advertised. When the seal is broken on it the chemical in this Light Stick produces a light. They come in all different colours.

The latest technology is laser light. They are used in colour displays in the night sky and more often as a source for telecommunication. They’re used in many CD players Basically, laser light is produced by squeezing a particular rock material with electricity. With all these lights, as long as the fuel is there they will produce a light for our use.

We enjoy light both natural and artificial. We use light in a special way to enhance our living areas in the home or in the church. We especially enjoy spectacular light: disco lights, party lights, a laser light show, fire-works, Christmas lights, bright city lights, and some people enjoy a lightning display in the night sky. I’m beginning to think that we behave in some ways like moths. They are attracted to bright lights too. As long as the spectacular light remains on the moths are transfixed by it and flutter around it as if nothing else mattered.

Some people behave like lights too. There are some people who have something special to give and through it attract many people to themselves. In a sense they are luminaries, spectacular lights. Politicians are luminaries, spectacular lights and so are pop-stars like Ricky Martin, sport stars like Jona Luomo, Father Christmas is one, and even some religious leaders.

Recently, Homes on Channel 1 investigated and interviewed people associated with a church in New Zealand that claimed miracle cures and spectacular signs from God. Those signs were gold dust in people’s hair and gold fillings in people’s teeth. You can imagine what Homes did and said. This particular church had invited two evangelists from South America to perform here what they did back home. Of course many people came to see and hear these two luminaries, spectacular lights. As long as they performed, people believed in them. But as soon as they returned home so the imagined gold fillings weren’t there anymore and the people dispersed.

There are churches throughout the world and here in New Zealand too that believe in and endeavour to be spectacular lights in the community. As long as they keep up with the spectacles, people keep coming. While the numbers are down in church members strive to find spectacular ways to bring people back to church. Two common attempts to bring people back to church are; entertaining worship services, and outrages youth meetings with trendy youth leaders. At times we forget to ask God, “Is this your way?”

The way we turn to various lights and use them is in a sense an admission that we are just ordinary. It is an admission that we have unfulfilled needs, that there is something missing in our life. Who is there that can fulfil our needs? Who is there that can sustain our needs longer than a Sunday morning? Is there a light greater than Ricky Martin? Yes!

Go to the stable, look in the manger and see for yourself. There in the manger lies baby Jesus born in Bethlehem. The nearby city of Jerusalem didn’t come out to see the arrival of the Son of God. There wasn’t a spectacle to see. They stayed home. The birth of Jesus, the Son of God was a humble birth to ordinary people, Mary and Joseph. The whole affair was ordinary, so much so that messengers were sent to tell people of the special event in Bethlehem. The angels told the word of God to the shepherds. The star pointed the way for the wise-men. King Herod’s scribes searched the records to give him an answer to where the King of the Jews was to be born.

Jesus in one sense was ordinary. He was born of flesh and blood, and was flesh and blood just like you and me. And yet Christians confess that he is the Light of the world. How can this be? What sort of light is he?

When John the Baptist was baptising people with water in the river Jordan many people came to him. He was a spectacle to be seen dressed in rough clothing. Many people also came to him because they saw in him a prophet of God. Jesus was one of many who came to John the Baptist. He was in many ways like the others, ordinary. The messenger of God, John the Baptist was moved by God to point out that this Jesus is the Light of the world, the saviour for us all. What sort of great light is he?

God sends a variety of messengers to call us to go and see Jesus. Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, all heard the word of God and came to stand before Jesus. The disciples of John the Baptist heard him say that this Jesus is the Christ, and they went to see him. Probably as they went they wondered, “Who is this Jesus?” The Word of God invites us to stand before Jesus who is our Saviour.

Back at Bethlehem, the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph have all gathered around baby Jesus. Perhaps some came wondering what they will see or experience. Initially, they saw an ordinary baby but through spending time with Jesus, they discovered that this is the Son of God. They left Bethlehem believing and rejoicing that this Jesus is the Son of God sent to be our Saviour. Their faith and joy in this knowledge is something that won’t disappear after a Sunday morning. It is an everlasting faith and joy that only a great Light can give.

God came to be ordinary, like us. In this way we can get close to him; like holding a baby in our arms, like walking and talking with Jesus, like eating and drinking with him, like laughing and crying together, like being a real good friend.
And yet, Jesus is the Son of God. Through his love for us no matter who we are he wants to shine in our life. He wants to provide us with an everlasting hope, peace, joy and love in our life.

Open your Bible, the Word of God everyday and read about Jesus. Spend time with him there and discover God’s love for you. Talk to Jesus, pray to him and you’ll discover that your life is changing as Jesus meets your daily needs. Only a Great Light can do this, not a spectacle.

Amen.

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