Minister's Message: Light in Difficult Places

Jan. 18, 2019

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
They lived in a land of shadows, but now the light is shining on them. 
(Isaiah 9:2)

What a hope and light-filled message.

We hear it’s resonance as of the lighting of the Christ candle Christmas Eve and carry forward that light for our lives, relationships and into the world all year round.

In a specific context, the Assyrian Empire carved out of swaths of Israel’s territory and assimilated whole tribes around 733 BCE. To a fear-filled and conquered people the prophet Isaiah shouts: Light, Liberation, Joy.

In verse 6 of the same chapter he promises: A child is born to us!

The presence of God in the vulnerability of a baby is the bedrock of Christian faith. God shines through this One who is dependent on the love of a first time young mother and the protection and care of an adopted or foster dad. This story occurs within a specific historic context: that of the murderous tyrant King Herod, the oppression of the Roman Empire and the escape to Egypt by the holy family.

Some were unwell over the holidays or in hospitals and rehab, sick and vulnerable. Isaiah says that is when the light can be at it’s most powerful, in the down times, the darkness, the places of disconnect and of weakness. I am looking for signs of light in these difficult places.

We, as communities of faith, are facing questions about our future in 2019. We will dare talk about these challenges at both Emmanuel and SouthWest this year. We live in contant change: that of our realities of ministry, stretched resources and in our specific context of decline in Quebec as ‘organized religion’. We are vulnerable, yet believe that light shines in and through us. We are determined to trust God in uncertainty, one day at a time, and be light to our neighbours and communities.

This Epiphany hymn sustains me and invites me to hope and light:

When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and the shepherds have found their way home, the work of Christmas has begun.

‘I am the light of the world’
You people come and follow me!
If you follow and love you’ll learn the mystery
of what you were meant to do and be. 
(Jim Strathdee, VU 87)

Let’s trust God, protect the vulnerable in our midst, and be light to all with a generous and protective love in 2019.

Rev. David