Second Sunday of Lent: "I Am the Light of the World
Scripture: John 8:12-20
"Shine, Jesus Shine" RW 39:26; SFL 239
"Christ, the Life of All the Living" PsH 371
Because this song was new to our congregation, we printed a brief history of the hymn in the liturgy and asked the choir to sing the first two verses. "This Little Light of Mine"
We invited the children to come forward and sing this to the congregation.
"Lift High the Cross" PsH 373, PH 371, RL 415, SFL 171, TH 263, TH 398
"Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Sky" PsH 481, PH 462, 463, RL 463, TH 398
"Christ Is the World's True Light" PsH 600, RL, 181
The setting for this story is the Feast of the Tabernacles, which celebrates the love of God shining upon his people. Most of the celebration takes place at night. Four enormous lamps stand in the Court of Women and are lit each night. The light from the lamps, so big that they use the pants of the priests as wicks, can be seen from every point in Jerusalem.
Men carry torches and sing songs, dancing before the crowd. The truly pious vow never to sleep at night during the Feast of the Tabernacles. In the midst of this powerful and emotional display, a poorly dressed Son of a carpenter from Galilee announces that he is the light of the world. All the splendor of the temple of God lit by the four awesome lamps, he says, is nothing compared to his glory.
He is the light not only to the Jews in Jerusalem who have gathered for this feast, but to everyone in the world. He frees the prisoner and gives sight to the blind. He is the true light of God.
How ridiculous his claims must seem to those who hear him speak these words. And Jesus does not stop there. He goes on to say that whoever follows him "will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Those who follow him, like those who followed the pillar of fire in the desert, will not die. They will live and find the promised land.
The Pharisees now have a chance to respond. Their central concern is the number of witnesses it takes to make a testimony valid. If Jesus is saying these things without the backing of another witness, then his testimony is invalid.
Imagine standing before the Maker of heaven and earth, the Son of God, and deciding to enter into a theological discussion about how many witnesses it takes to establish truth. Some people, faced with a choice between going to heaven and going to a debate about heaven will choose the debate every time. The Pharisees want a legal battle, not a saving moment. They want to discuss, not believe. They want to win the battle, but in doing so, they will lose their souls.
The light of Christ is still needed in our world. We need to invade every arena, every area, every space, every technology, every occupation, and every relationship with the light of Jesus Christ.