Text John 1:6-7, 19-28
Good and Gracious God, you have gathered us here this morning. Given us this day to share once more in your word and meal. Enlighten our paths, illumine are days, gives us strengthen to witness to your light, that others might be enveloped in the radiance of your love. And we ask all this in your Son’s name Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Winter is here…. almost!
Officially winter begins with the Winter Solstice which will be this Thursday, Dec. 21. Days have felt shorter and shorter since the first day of summer, or the Summer Solstice on June 21, with the shortest day being this Thursday.
But in reality, we know that the hours in the days themselves aren’t shortening or lengthening, but rather the amount of daylight is diminishing each day, being replaced by the dusk and darkness of night.
This limited amount of daylight can affect people in many different ways, it seems that winter always is dim and gloomy, with lack of sunlight everything just seems gray, all the time. Many people are affected by the lack of Vitamin D, and many believe that this results in Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that is related to changes in the season.
So, what does all this have to do with the testimony of John?
Well that’s just it, John was a man sent by God, as a witness to testify to the light. John was sent to point towards the one who is to come, to prepare the way of the Lord.
It is this light, that has been present even before creation, that the people of God were so desperately seeking. They had been conquered, exiled, and made to live under the authority of many kings and nations for what seemed like forever. And here, now, they were living under Roman rule and they seemed to be a dark place, out in the wilderness, walking through the shadows. And John was here to point to the light that was to come, the light that would disperse the shadows and illumine their walk in the wilderness.
And it seems, that we have been stuck in this wilderness as well. It seems that the longest day of the last year came and never left. That we have been living in this perpetual dusk and gloom for the past year. We experience some of this gloom together as a community, as we said goodbye to many of our beloved friends and family here at Holy Trinity.
And we live in many of these long gray days individually, navigating the murkiness and shadows in our own ways. Many of these experiences are now becoming more public and one can gain strength and solidarity as people share similar experiences of living in the shadows.
John broke the silence.
People around us are breaking the silence.
And we are called in Advent to give witness, to join in and break the silence as well.
I mean, we don’t have to look far to see how silence and this witness has inundated our daily lives. We have lived this past year with an increase in divisiveness throughout our country and world. We have witnessed the devaluing and dehumanizing of our fellow brothers and sisters. And as we come to the close of 2017, we are flooded with various outlets reporting the top stories, trends, etc. This year it seems eye-opening what has defined our past year. What we have experienced and what we have witnessed.
Time Magazine announces that their person of the year is not a single person but rather a movement that started from a few brave women’s voices. Time begins the article with the words, “It became a hashtag, a movement, a reckoning, but it began, as a great social change nearly always does, with individual acts of courage.” The article pays tribute to the “Person of the Year” the Silence Breakers who came out and spoke truth to power about their experiences and said enough is enough.
Google released their top 10 searches of 2017 and included in this list is both Hurricane Irma and Matthew, the Las Vegas Shooting, Matt Lauer, and the solar eclipse.
Within these shadows, we were intrigued that day would become night, and then break into day again all in the matter of an afternoon. That afternoon, light broke through darkness, and in this year, silence was broken, and light shown through the shadows.
We all have stories, we all have experiences and these experiences do not diminish who we are or the radiance of our created beauty. By breaking the silence, this radiance breaks through the shadows of our life. The radiance illumines our paths
and enlightens our lives. John pointed to the truth. John provided witness, he was compelled, his light couldn’t be contained.
We testify not because it’s easy or something we have to do, but rather we do so because, how can we not? These are our stories, our experiences, our lives. When we discount witness, when we cast off testimony, we have then made the determination that our own will not be heard or accepted. When we say to another, “you don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know what you’ve seen. You can’t possibly interpret your own experience as what you experienced.” When we say that the experience of others cannot be trusted? Then we are opening the door for others to say the same to us.
Giving witness to the light is not always comfortable, and it is sometimes painful. But, it exposes what needs to be brought into the open, and in the end, insists that the light will indeed shine, overcoming the shadows, dusk, and murkiness, that has hidden so much for so long.
In this Advent season how are we pointing to the light, preparing the way, shouting Behold!?
Jesus is the true light, the ability to create and maintain life. John points to the truth that is Jesus, the silence breaker that breaks open the cracks in the shadows and illumines are lives and our experiences so that our own light might be re-ignited.