Let it Shine - Sermon for District Synod

Luke 2:29-32

The light of God’s eternal Word exposes us. It exposes us exactly as we are. The light of God’s eternal Gospel sheds its merciful rays on us, for it accepts us we are.

‘Let it shine’. What an excellent theme.

It is the theme of the Victoria/Tasmania District of the Lutheran Church of Australia in convention. A theme to be carried forward into everyday life.

Walking in the dark is a significant but negative image we hear throughout the New Testament Scriptures.

It is not often that we have the experience of darkness that generations of long ago knew so well in an age of candles and kerosene lamps. Perhaps if the power fails you may remember a time you stumbled from room to room flicking on the light switches because somehow that is what you do to get light. We are so programmed to do it. Very frustrating, however, when the lights just do not turn on.

In early biblical times prison cells down in dungeons were so dark and damp that the deprivation of any sense of light could drive people mad. Darkness in such circumstances was understood to be a threat.

To dissipate that thick darkness is our desire. Light then becomes all important.

Simeon, who spoke the words of the text under consideration was old and nearing the time he would meet God in eternity. But he had been told he would not face his maker until the light had been shown for him to see.

Simeon understood the need for light. It was almost as though he was saying ‘Bring it on God. Let it shine’.

The strange thing about darkness, however, is that it may even blind us to the possibility of light.

We gather in darkness. If there is a god, he may live in heaven in some sort of light but that has nothing to do with me. There is no submission to the awesome presence of God. There is plenty of evil and suffering in this world. If we are not the perpetrators of hideous crimes, we have all suffered directly or indirectly from those who are. We know indignity in this life. Strangely, we are not disturbed or ashamed as we gather in the dark alleys of our world. Even in the face of hopelessness we hold any notion of a good god in contempt.

By what right could any detached god be our judge?

Simeon was well aware that those who were called ‘God’s people’, Israel, had suffered as slaves, had been shipped off to foreign lands over the years past. Even in his time they lived under a foreign super power of the age.

Simeon’s hope was in a god who is the God of salvation and so is the Light to the world.

I walk in darkness when I decide that I and my concerns are more important than God and his light. Sadly that is acting as though darkness is not darkness at all. No wonder I feel no shame over my role in hurting others and in denying God.

I continue to deny God’s right to show me my sins. He has not lived in my conditions, suffered my depressions, anxieties and injustices. How could he understand and let the world go on as it is? That is not a question for Simeon, because God sentenced his own son to be born on this earth.

Born a Jew, he lived among people who did not want the light or life of God. At least not the way he revealed it. Rejected by the very people he came to help, he owned no property or shares. No one understood him. His life was often in danger. He was betrayed, unjustly treated. No one came to his aid and he died alone, forsaken even by God. This God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, Simeon first held in his arms and recognised salvation right there ‘in the presence of all peoples’.

A turning point for every one of us. Now we are all exposed. In this light we see that we are dead. Dead in sin.

Simeon already saw what the apostle Paul, intent on ridding the world of Christ’s followers, saw as the dazzling light that stopped him in his tracks on the way to Damascus to carry out more dastardly deeds.

What a revelation it is for us too when in this our own dark world we now see God’s Son with scarred, nail pierced hands. The very light that exposed us is with us, accepting us as we are. Before God the judge Jesus has already served our sentence.

That is the light that shines through us. Prepared in this world among all peoples it is a light for others as it is for us. The very glory of God.

It is the light of new life, hope, mercy and forgiveness which now bathes us in whatever predicament we find ourselves. It is the light which followed Philip, a recently ordained Aboriginal pastor.

Philip had been ready to be ordained many years ago, but he was intent on re-entering the darkness and did so for many years. Salvation which Simeon held in his arms continues to shine and Philip returned to the light and was ordained this year in Central Australia. His impassioned plea to ‘his mob’ as he called his congregation was for all, especially the young, to keep their eyes on God’s salvation. Stay in the light.

As God had said, Simeon would die in peace. As God had promised he would not leave Pastor Philip and he has not. Salvation shines. Let it shine.

A small boy fascinated by the sun shining through a stained glass window in a Church building asked of his father as to the identity of the figures in the window. ‘St Peter, St Paul, St John and St James’ his father pointed them out.

After some thought the youngster made this profound observation ‘I suppose a saint is somebody that the light shines through’.

That is you and that is me. We do not shine our lights for God. He shines for us and we shine for those around us.

Let it shine – everywhere that God call us, in our homes, at our work and at play.