SER # 49Wa

FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY

YEAR A

COLOR: PURPLE – 4TH CANDLE 

SUNDAY DECEMBER 20TH, 2020

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TEXTS: JOHN 1: 1 – 5; MATTHEW 5: 14 – 16

THEME: THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

This is our Fourth Sunday of Advent we light the candle of Purple. The candle represents Love. This candle reminds us of what moved God to send his only son to be born as a baby. We read this in the book of John about the word becoming flesh. God taking the form of a human so that he can live among his people (Incarnation). God Experienced his people in his human form and forever changed our destiny.

To help learn more about Advent this year we are using the book of Rev. Adam HamiltonIncarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas”; Abingdon press Nashville 2020.  Our small group that is being led by Dr. Dean Thomson and Dr. Jon Habben are studying the same. You can join them through zoom of in person every Sunday at 8:30am in room 210 & 211.

This is our fourth Sunday of Advent and we are working on a Sub-theme: The light of the world and what that means in our faith Journey. As we think about the light, we are reminded that this theme starts from the creation story where God did the separation of light and darkness. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called it night” (Genesis 1: 1-5a). In the New Testament we associate light with God and that which is good. “And there will be no more nights. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.” (Revelation 22:5 NIV).

We can say that there are two forces here at we are dealing with as we strive to live on this earth. There is the force of darkness and the force of light. When it comes to darkness it is usually associated with evil, bad adversity, ignorance, despair, gloom and even Death says Adam Hamilton in his book “Incarnation.” According to Adam there are two categories that the scripture associate with evil. One, Moral darkness. This comes from the decisions that we make or evil actions that affect others. When we make wrong decision like those which dehumanize people or lead to racism, sexism or any other form of discrimination is morally wrong and evil.  Two, there is situational, relational or emotional darkness. These we find ourselves involved not because we have chosen. Things like shooting in the school. When it comes to moral darkness it is all around people. We can see it through the acts of terrorists’ attacks, shootings and other harmful acts. We can feel it in life circumstances that leave us in fear or in state of hopelessness. We feel darkness when people have chosen to end their own lives. The battle as human that we face everyday is between good and evil. These two forces act from within and from without. The forces of evil consume us from inside as well as from outside, the main theme of evil is darkness. The forces of good can be also experienced from inside as well as outside. The main theme of good is the light. Christmas then or Jesus birth is the answer to the question of darkness may they be moral or existential.

But today we need to focus on the light that takes away the darkness.

  1. We are the light: The word of God reminds us that believers are the light of the world. We walk in the light. “You are the light of the world a town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven(Matthew 5:14-16). When we read some words of David from the Psalm, we are reminded of who the actual light is. We reflect the light of God as we allow it to land on us. It is like the Sun and the Moon. We are the Moon and God is the sun. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?(Psalm 27: 1). Jesus came to become a companion who will walk with us even in the darkest hour of our life. He came as the light to demonstrate to us God’s compassion. To show compassion to those who are sick, mercy to the sinners, and to teach us how to live like the children of the light. Then he died to show us his life-giving love to us all who believe in him. By his raising, it was a clear victory over death hence removing the darkness of death from God’s believing people. He brought hope to humanity. We therefore join with the writer of the book of John in saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life(John 8: 12).
  2. Light is to be shared: This light can represent our testimonies. Our experiences with God. The light that God put in us is to be share in the world we live in. That is the light of Jesus. A friend of mine (Harun Gatobu) shared with me a true experience he had about sharing the light. He was new in the country then and he was at the bus stop in Denver Colorado where he was attending the university. It so happened that there was another gentleman waiting for the bus too. This gentleman approached my friend and asked him, “do you have the light” my friend was so excited to share the light since nobody had asked him that question from the time he moved to USA. He started telling his new found friend how he had met the Lord as a young man who became the light of his life. How when he got saved his life got transformed. That what it meant having the light where he came from; if someone asked you if you had the light, you would share a testimony how Jesus light has been working in your life. His friend asked the same question again and by friend was wondering what part of the light he not understood. Finally, his new friend put the hand in his pocket and came out with a cigarette and then pointing at it asked, he asked my friend, do you have the light? Part two of the encounter continued but I will tell you another time. To each one of us who has the son in his or her life has the light within him or her. This light of God was not meant to be covered under the table but rather to be put on the lampstand so that it can light the whole of it surrounding. If we can let the little light within you shine it will surely make a difference. There is an Afro-American spiritual we usually sing, (This Little Light of Mine) adapted by William Farley Smith, 1987 about the little light that we may let it shine UMH # 585). We sing three verses each with a special emphasis. One, we must let it shine: This is a challenge for every believer to remember that they can’t cover their light. When we allow Jesus in our lives, he brings the light out in us. It is easy to be shy about sharing about this Jesus who is the light. Our first task as believers is to let it shine by not putting any barriers around it like placing it under the table. Two, we must let it shine everywhere we go: This is a very important aspect who a Christian ought to be. Let is shine in every aspect of our life; our family life, sex life, business life, student life. When you are at the staff meeting let the light shine, at the sport met, let the light shine, parent gathering, let the light shine, at the party, let the light shine. This list can be added, we never leave the light behind. One preacher put it this way, “The light of Jesus is not like a coat or jacket that we get off when we are uncomfortable wearing.” I think of this when I come to my office with a coat or Jacket on, I usually remove it and hang it until the time of going out or going home is when I put it back on. We can’t hang this light of Jesus and just put it on Sunday when coming to church or when we are in the religious gathering. We must keep the light of Jesus on wherever you go. Three, we must let it shine through the night: The night represents darkness and darkness is evil. This represent those difficult times of our lives. The death of a loved one, sickness, divorce, being fired from work, children doing something bad, police showing up at your residence. We must keep the light of Jesus shining. I am not promising that it is easy but it is the best option we have as the children of faith in keeping the light of Jesus on. Keeping the light on during the night is never going to be easy. Some of us go through more nights than days, but never give up, the day is coming, keep the light shining.
  3. Light is to be experienced: When people have experienced the light of Jesus, they feel set free from all bondage that put them down. Unless we experience this light, we can never be free. We experience something in several ways: One, by living through it: Jesus the light can be exposed to us by the people who live with us. Our parents our friends may be able to put us in a position to experience the light of God. Here I am imagining the story of Timothy of the bible and his relationship with Paul, his mother and grandmother. This exposer had a tremendous impact on the faith journey of Timothy. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands(2 Timothy 1: 4 – 6). Two, by accident: There are people who have stumbled in this light by accident. This can happen when you are invited to a gathering where somehow the word is shared and usually it is hard to run away. It might seem like an accident to you, but it had to be in God divine planning. It happens when one is invited for example to a youth camping experience of other funny activities and someone shares about this light and one finds themselves in real fire of Jesus because some had shared about Jesus. Three, by us searching: There is another group of people who search for this light. They do it because they feel that there is a link missing in their own life. The search can take different directions. There some who will go to the bible, others will go to different churches while other count on their friends to help-out. There is that urge from inside of wanting to live a different life, but one does not know how. So, they keep looking and as the bible reminds us those who seek will find. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened(Matthew 7: 7 – 8).
  4. Light Overcomes All Darkness: God from the beginning he separated light from darkness for the two can not exist together. It was the writer of the book of Revelation (John) who put it this in real faith perspective when he said you must be hot or cold nothing in between. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot or cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth(Revelation 3:15 -16). When we allow the light of God in our lives the darkness has no place. Someone has said that darkness exists, in the absence of light. This does not mean that we don’t encounter dark moment like death and other things but when we do face them, we do it like people who have hope. Hope and faith with the one who is able. When we moan for the people we love, we do it like people with hope of living after this death, because Jesus who is the light conquered death by his resurrection. “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him(1 Thessalonians 4: 13 – 14). We know that even with the tiniest light no darkness can stand against it. Let us carry our light wherever we go to face any darkness that comes our way.