December 9, Wednesday
Jesus, the Light of the World
Psalm 27:1-4 (NRSV)
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
Hark! the herald angels sing;
Jesus the Light of the world.
“Glory to the newborn King.”
Jesus the Light of the world.
Weʼll walk in the Light
Come where the dew drops of mercy shine bright
Shine all around us by day and by night
Jesus, the Light of the world
- George D. Elderkin
I grew up in the Missionary Baptist Church tradition, where singing complemented the rich heritage of Black preaching. By the age of three I had come to enjoy singing songs like “Jesus, the Light of the World,” but I had little understanding of the meaning of the song. When teaching a child to grasp the concept of colors, the teacher demonstrates colors using objects. A red apple can be used to identify the color red. Before long the color consumes the child. “Mom, red!” the child proclaims, pointing to a red ribbon (and everything else red). But how would a teacher explain grateful? Grateful feels more abstract because it exists in the heart of the one who is thankful or appreciative.
The idea of “walk[ing] in the light” felt abstract to me. In my childish imagination, I pictured a bright light around an infant Jesus in a manger. I also remember a light that followed Jesus around in my imagination as I pictured the Scriptures coming to life. As I grew in my knowledge of Scripture and love of singing, I considered how I understood the significance of the Light, who is Jesus, in my life? How do I walk in the Light? What constitutes darkness? Jesus declares that He is the light in the darkness of our world (John 8:12), the hope in the midst of human condition.
Psalm 27 gives voice to the experience of human trials and suffering (David’s darkness), but the text also offers hope. Like David in our text at times we feel overwhelmed by the stressors that threaten the comforts of life, as we know it. In my experience as a pastor, chaplain and ACPE supervisor, I have seen darkness in the lives of those I’ve served. For some poverty is their darkness. For others, times of depression, sickness, and failure hide their light. Still for others marginalization, hunger, social oppression and discrimination translate to the darkness that is realized in our world. How does the Light of Christ in you drive out the darkness that you see?
How can we be the hope of Christ to a world in darkness?
O Lord may we realize your Divine presence in the midst of the human condition to reflect the Light that shines through our lives. Amen.
By Ardella Gibson, CBFAR Coordinating Council member
Providence Baptist Church, Little Rock
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