Sermon: Bearing Witness

Bearing Witness
John 1:6-8, 19-28

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In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God, and the Word was God. Love. He was in the beginning with God. All things came in to being through him, and without him noth one thing came into being. Love. What has come into being in him was life – love. And the live was the light of all people. The light shines in he darkness, and the darkness did not over come it.

The vacuum of the cosmos. The eye burning darkness. So dark that nothing could exist. Formless. Voice. Dark. Into the darkness comes a breath. A word. The Word. Love. And into the darkness breaks the light. The light that was and is and will forever be. Into the darkness comes the light of love. The light of life. The light destroys the physics of the vacuum and there is an explosion of such magnitude that it will continue to expand billions of years later. There is an explosion of such love that in it all life that has ever existed came into being. There is and explosion of such love that particles of dust began to orbit around around star and that dust began to bind itself and it formed a small planet third from the star.

This planet began to orbit the star. And as it did the rock and stardust began a dace that cause certain molecules to separate and begin to bind to one another and as they did the some began to pool, some began to evaporate, some began to freeze and some began to fall from the skies. As the static electricity of the new group was disturbed by the falling of the rain the atoms began to agitate and separate. Longing for each other a flash of light from heavens reached down to the pool of water – the light shines in the darkness.

More molecules and cells are agitated and begin to squirm and bind to each other. They begin to evolve into more complex molecules until there is an organism. An organism that grows and evolves into an animal. That grows and evolves into a human – a human who was formed out of the dirt and stardust and sparked by the light of the Word. The light shines in the darkness and as humankind stood on the dry land and watched their first sunrise the light shone in their hearts.

They grew and multiplied and they began to shield themselves from the light. They discovered they could determine what was good and what was not all on their own. They learned to create fire and began to turn away from the light – thinking they were the makers of the light.

As they turned away from the Light – the light of love – they began to dwell in darkness, but unable to tell for their eyes had grown accustom to the dark. They failed to remember they were children of the light. The light that sparked the explosion of the cosmos – the light of love. Forgetting they were all formed by the same light of love – they turned away and did not see the Light in each other.

Every once and a while one would again see the light – the light of love – the light that darkness can not over come. And they would call out from the mountains – they would call out – Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. And some would turn toward the light and some would not.

One such voice in the wilderness was a man sent from God – named John. He came to witness to the light. To point to the light, a voice in the wilderness, he testified to the light so that all might believe. He knew that we was not the light – but he would point to – bear witness to the light, unafraid.

There were some who did not get it. They could not see the light – even though it was among them. They demanded to know who he was. “I am not the light – the Messiah. I am not Elijah. I am not the prophet. I am just one calling out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord. I come to bear witness to the light. To baptize and prepare the way. But the light is among you and you can not see it. You will see him after me – I am not even worth to untie his sandal.”

From the vacuum of the cosmos came the light that darkness can not overcome. From the same dirt and stardust that swirled around the new star came the light of love to live among us – we people – children of the light.

In this season of Advent, especially this year, we are acutely aware of the darkness around us. The darkness in the world. Protests and murders; bombings and beheadings; torture reports and stagnant wages; dysfunctions at home and in the government. It is as though there is a black hole spinning in space tying to fight against the light and engulf everything into its pure vacuum of darkness. In this season of waiting and hoping – do we wait for the darkness? Do we hope for and end to all the darkness? Or do we bear witness to the light that shines in the darkness and is not over come by it?

John came as a witness to the light. He came into a place of darkness – especially for his people. They were enslaved by Rome and held captive by their own leaders. They were lucky to just get by – let alone have anything to save or share. It seemed as though John’s people had only ever known this kind of occupation.

They would gather and wonder if it would be better if they had never left Egypt. The would talk about their families histories back between the waters of the rivers in Babylon. They would remember that when their own people rose up to defeat the Greek tyrants they were just as crooked as the rest of them. And now under the thumb of Rome – should they just give up and roll over? Was it time for their light to go out?

But John came as a voice in the wilderness to bear witness to the light of God who shines in the darkness. To point to the coming of one in whom all would be revealed – all would be seen – the light of the Divine would shine and unmasks all that sought to bring darkness. John came as a witness to the light.

He heard the word that was in the beginning with God – the word of love. The word that could pierce any darkness. John brought a word of light to those who were in the darkness. Those who had nowhere to look by toward anything that would pierce the darkness.

Because of John’s witness of the light we are children of the light.

We are here today because of the witness of someone. Someone pointed toward the light of love – the light of God and brought us here today. Maybe not physically and maybe we can’t even point to what it was – but somehow we have seen the light. The light of God’s love. The light that has pulled us out of the darkness or is just shinning as we are in our darkness.

The light of God’s love pulled me out of the valley of despair I was in after we had lost our second child to miscarriage. The light of God was there for me when I was shiftless and wandering – it was lighting the way to a vocational call that I love. The light of God is shinning every time I see the eyes of my daughter and wife. They point to the light – bear witness to the light each time I am blessed to feel their embrace. The light of God’s love gives me the strength to bear witness to God’s love in prophetic ways – to say things that point toward the light of God’s love even it makes some uncomfortable. It may seem to political or taboo. But I have to bear witness to God’s light.

I do this because I have seen the light of God’s love and stand a the precipice of darkness. I see the darkness in the world and can not stand idly by as the some try to extinguish the light of God’s love in others. I have to bear witness to God’s light in the darkness. And though it may upset some I pray that my witness to the light be stronger than any darkness.

I share this because I have been transformed by God’s light of love. We are all children of the light. We have been all been given – the spark of God’s amazing love that burns within us. We are here because we have been witnesses of the light of God’s love. Or maybe we are searching for that light. We are all part of that same dirt and stardust that became embodied by Jesus. We are all children of the light. If you are here today searching for the light – know that you, too, are a child of God’s light. Your are the light of love.

And knowing this how can we not have any response but to bear witness? To point toward the light?

Just look were it is shinning.

On Chester Street with a woman who has such love for her neighbors she embraces them. She takes those who the others would leave in the darkness and shows them the light of God’s love.

It is shining at the home of a mother who takes in those with no place to go. She shines God’s light of love.

It is shining at Crestwood with neighbors who care for each other – who look out for each other and shine God’s light of love when darkness falls. Bearing witness to those around of God’s light.

It is shining with a mom who works tirelessly to make sure that there is food on the tables of those who are hungry. When the darkness of the world, for them, is wondering were the next meal will come from – she shines the light of God’s love by making sure they have something – something to eat.

It is shinning with a dad who shares his gifts with kids. Providing them a place to learn and grow and to express the light of God within themselves.

It is shining in so many places associated with the saints of this place I could go on for days. But as the darkness of the world grows deeper, do not fear. Do not give into the temptation, do not think the darkness can over come you – for the light of the children of God is a light that shines in the darkness and the dark can not over come it.

We stand as witnesses to the light of the love of God. We stand as children of the light in the darkness around us. We stand in the darkness naming it – calling it out and shinning God’s light upon it. We shout with joy. We shout – Arise, shine, for your light has come. The light which pierces this present darkness. The light that penetrates the very essence of life. the light of hope and salvation. The light of love and Grace.

Arise, shine; for your light has come
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness will cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will arise upon you
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations will come to your light
and kings to the bright of your dawn…

For the Sprit of the Lord is upon us,
The Lord has anointed us to bring good news to the oppressed,
To bind up the brokenhearted;
To proclaim freedom to the captives,
And release to the prisoners.
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort those who mourn.

Arise, shine; for your light has come. Bear witness to the light. For we are children of the light.

Thanks be to God.


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