Hidden beneath the world’s fake glitter and the shiny objects that forever distract and compel, is the light of Christ, both transcendent and earthy, quietly beckoning.
During this season of Epiphany, a season that celebrates the light of Jesus Christ moving in and amongst us, it is essential to consider the sort of light this is. Which is to say that it is not, typically, the kind of light that blinds us, or meets us in obvious places. Rather, it’s more the kind of light tinged with all the complexity of human existence, itself more mysterious than rational. Its true import, in fact, is often known (if ever it is known) in retrospect only.
It’s the kind of light Vermeer sought to paint. Out of darkened surroundings emerges a warm, luminous light that seems to radiate from within. It draws in the viewer and bespeaks a private, unseen reverence quietly conferred. It’s not the stark, impatient light of midday, but far more indirect, at times as dim as winter’s first light.
Karl Barth, the famed 20th century Swiss theologian, reminded our world that Jesus presents to us humanity in its truest form. When we become Christians, in other words, we are bidden to become not ghost-like, esoteric, “spiritual” waifs, but the fullest of human beings.
In becoming fully human, however, we notice our inherent, existential limitations, as God created us. We discover that we are finite creatures, not gods. In the light of these limitations, it dawns on us that we are, by nature, radically dependent on our Creator, and interdependent with all of creation around us.
Such an awareness necessarily produces the deepest kind of yearning (for completeness), along with its attendant uncertainties, anxieties, and fears (for we are not whole in and by ourselves). We must face our singular life.
Yet it is here, in the midst of this presumed isolation that the ineffable light of Christ shines, beckoning us to risk our fears and anxieties in seeking out the Other, by offering our lives to God and one another. In so doing, we discover at last the Spirit’s gentle calm, its transcendent peace, both of which lie just beneath and beyond our greatest fears and longings.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Thomas C. Leinbach, Pastor