Sermon 2 Easter Yr B

2 Easter Yr B, 19/04/2009

I Jn 1:5-7

Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &

Chaplain of The Good Samaritan Society’s

South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta

“Walking in the Light”

Light. We cannot live without light. Life is possible because of light. Our world, as we know it, needs light to exist. The same is true for us spiritually. Listen to the words of the writer of our second lesson again: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” We all need the light. Without light we are lost in darkness.

In her book, The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder tells the story of how difficult life could be on the frontier especially during the winter. She recalls one winter in particular when it started snowing in October and did not seem to stop until April. The temperature dropped to 40 below. Snow reached the roof tops and the townspeople nearly starved.

Things became so bad that two young men, Cap Garland and Almanzo Wilder set out on a 40-mile round trip to bring back wheat for the village. It was a slow difficult trip, with the 19-and 24-year-old boys enduring frostbite and a wagon that turned over in the drifts. The trip back was long and the boys realized they were down to the last mile but because of the darkness and snow they were not sure that they had not passed by the town.

Almanzo headed for the town, which was somewhere in the thick darkness, as well as he could. Almanzo yelled to Cap, “You see anything?” “Nope. We’re in for it, I guess,” Cap answered. “Town cannot be far ahead,” Almanzo told him.

Out of the corner of his eye he caught a gleam of light. He looked toward it and then saw nothing in the storm but dark. Then he saw it again, a glow that shone bright, then abruptly went out. He knew what it was; light shining out from a door that had quickly opened and closed. Near where it had been, he thought he saw the faint glow of a frost-covered window and yelled to Cap, “See that light? Come on!”1

We all need light, without light we are lost in the darkness. We cannot live without light. Light reveals, helps us to see the truth. The risen Jesus appeared to his first disciples, revealing himself as the Light of the world. In the resurrection accounts, Christ’s appearance is described as bright and shining. The writer of our second lesson today also states that “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.”

Greek philosopher, Plato, once said: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy is when adults are afraid of the light.” The people who engage in criminal acts and acts of evil often wait for darkness to commit their crimes and evil acts. Overall, the majority of such crimes and evil acts are more likely to happen in the darkness of night. Folks guilty of such crimes and evil acts regard light as their enemy because the reveals what is true. You cannot hide in the light.

The writer of our second lesson says that those who walk in the darkness cannot do what is true, they are living a lie. What the writer means here is that those who love to engage in sinful acts like breaking the ten commandments, for example, and then say that they are doing nothing wrong are liars. Such people denied that they were sinners or guilty of sin, therefore they said they really did not need Jesus to forgive them. For them, the death of Jesus was not necessary and did not cleanse them from sin because they had no sin and were not sinners.

John, on the contrary states that we walk in the light when we believe that we are sinners, have committed sins and need Jesus, the Son of God to forgive us. According to John, the shed blood of Jesus on the cross is life-giving; it has the power to cleanse us from all sin. In believing this, we walk in the light. Why? Because Christ, the risen Light of the world has shined on us; has given us the true revelation about himself. The true revelation is that he died for us on the cross to forgive our sins and he was resurrected on Easter morning, defeating the powers of death and evil and opening up for us the way of eternal life by promising that one day we to shall share in a resurrection like his. This is the message of Christ the Light of the world. The message shines on us so that we can walk in the light. We walk in the light when we rely on Christ to live a life of love—loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving neighbour as ourselves. We have been given this light, therefore we reflect it outwards to others, to the whole world to see. The message of this Easter season is that we are going to let our light shine; we let the Light of Christ shine through us. We are reflectors of his resurrection Light.

The story is told of a church way up in the highest mountains of Switzerland. A beautiful church, built with great care by the villagers who lived nearby. Yet, there was one thing the church did not have. Can you think of what that might have been? If you guessed no lights, you are correct. The villagers could not go into the church and switch on the lights like we do here. Yet every Sunday evening the people living on the mountain-side opposite the tiny church saw something wonderful. The church bell would ring and worshippers would wend their way up the mountainside towards the church. After they entered the church, all of a sudden it would light up brightly. What do you think happened? Yes, you see the people had to bring light with them, so they carried lanterns. Arriving at church, they lit their lanterns, and then hung them around the church on pegs set in the walls, so the light would spread all around. If only a few people came to church the light would be very dim because there were only a few lanterns. However, when lots of people came to church there was plenty of light. After the service the villagers took their lanterns home. While exiting the church, those who watched from a distance saw a stream of light pouring out of the church and over the mountainside. For many it was a sign that all was well. God’s light was with them and in them. The only time the little church lit up was when people were there. That’s when it truly became a church, and the light shone most brightly.2 The villagers were walking in the Light of Christ and others saw it because they reflected it.

So, too, we are walking in the Easter Light of Christ whenever we reflect it to others through words and acts of love, serving God and our neighbours. Amen.

 

1 Emphasis, Vol. 23, No. 6, March-April 1994 (Lima, OH: CSS Publishing Co., Inc.), p. 52.

2 Cited with some modifications from Rev. Richard Fairchild, the 5th Sunday of Year A, 1999, at <www.spirit-net.ca/sermon.html>.

 

 

 

 

 

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About dimlamp
I am, among other things, a sojourner, a sinner-saint, a baptized, life-long learner and follower of Jesus, and Lutheran pastor. Dim Lamp: dimlamp.wordpress.com gwh photos: gwhphotos.wordpress.com

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