Yesterday Tom and I attended worship at Linworth United Methodist Church in Columbus. This is the church closest to John and Jackie’s house and it is a wonderful church. Yesterday there were 600 in worship at the 9 a.m. service (they performed Handel’s Messiah with full orchestra) and 300 at the 10:30 service which Tom and I attended. I love the band. I love the ministry team and the way they share all the duties of the church. If Tom and I were to settle in Columbus, I would want to live close to this church so I could volunteer there regularly.
Yesterday the service flowed with a constant theme: be the light of Jesus Christ in the world. We started with a variation on the hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful” and I really paid attention to the words as we sang:
O Come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold him, born the King of angels. O come, let us adore him. O come, let us adore him. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
We are supposed to come to the manger at Christmas to remember that this is God’s gift to us and to a world in darkness. How are we supposed to come? Joyfully and triumphantly. I don’t know about you, but the triumphant thing is rarely in my wheelhouse. I am joyful in the Lord, but when I see the mess in the world, I never feel triumphant. The news beats me down. People shooting each other, blowing each other up, attacking each other verbally, in the name of Allah or God or Jesus Christ. It can be hard to feel triumphant.
But we are told to come to the manger to adore him and to remember that this baby, this child, this smallest of human beings, was God’s gift to the world to triumph over all the bad stuff. It was God’s gift of light in the midst of the darkness. And it still is God’s gift of light to us today. Let us adore him – behold in silent wonder the incredible gift.
Yesterday in the prayer, Rev. Gene said “We have made a mess of your world. Help us as we try to put it right.” So true. Even those of us who are supposed to reflect the light of Christ often mess things up more than we fix them. The problem is we keep trying to do it ourselves. Instead we need to work to fix the world from inside God’s plan, inside his will and with his power instead of our own. We mess it up when we focus on ourselves. We begin to fix it when we focus on him.
In the sermon, Rev. Graham asked us to be the light of Christ in the world. He reminded us that we are the only light of Christ that some people will see. This made me think of one of my devotional readings – if others were to learn all they know of Christ from watching you, what would they learn? There are so many ways I need to be a more deliberate witness, reflecting more of Christ and less of the world. I need to stop being a Christian in disguise and be the light of Christ in the world. I can be more deliberate in my witness, more centered on Christ in my speaking, more focused on Christ in my life.
How are you reflecting the light of Christ this Christmas? Are you part of the darkness or part of the light? What do others see when they look at you? Jesus came into a world filled with darkness – and things haven’t changed at all. But still the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.