Readings and reflection from Sunshine Cathedral in Second Life on Sunday, January 3, 2016 Epiphany
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The Call to Worship
Welcome to Sunshine Cathedral, a congregational mission of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. This day in the church calendar acknowledges the incarnation of God in Christ, here on earth in that space between us, in our right relationship with each other… the Christ who was with God at the moment of creation, the Christ who manifested in history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Call to Worship (Based on Isaiah 60:1-5)
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
ALL: and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness cover the peoples;
ALL: but the LORD will arise upon you,
and glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
ALL: Lift up your eyes and look around;
they all gather together, they come to you
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice
Guide us, O God, by your Word, and Holy Spirit, that in your light we may see light, in your truth find freedom, and in your will discover peace. Amen
The Wisdom of Carley Dawson
“The all-wise, omnipresent Spirit is a Spirit of Love. It guides me into all good. It will never leave me. I no longer live in ignorance of who and what I am. I am a spiritual being. I live in a Life that is constant and on-going and continually expanding in Light and Love. Gratefully, I shall grow in it and with it eternally.”
John 1.2-5, 10
The Word was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
The light was in the world, and the world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light.
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It might seem odd to have readings centered on light in the middle of the winter when the days are shortest in the northern hemisphere and the darkness lasts from after we rise in the morning to hours before we settle in to rest for the evening. For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere we are only a few days past the very shortest day of the year. But the truth is, each day there is a little more light. Every day the sun rises just a little earlier and sets just a little later.
The light our readings reference today really has nothing at all to do with the length of time the sun is up each day. The light we’re considering today is the light that shines from the spark of the divine in each of us. Epiphany is the feast of the church that celebrates the incarnation of God in Christ. The doctrines of the church focus most specifically on the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
That same Jesus told his followers over and over that everything he was capable of, they were capable of and even more. He continually pointed to God as the source of his power. We are the ones who decided to elevate Jesus to the super human. What he taught us is that every single human life is precious. He healed the sick and those tortured by their past. He forgave sins in the name of God and constantly preached love of neighbor and of our enemies.
Today we celebrate the incarnation of God in Jesus. And we would be remiss if we did not also celebrate the light of God, the spark of the divine that is placed in every single human heart. The question that constantly plagues us is why do human beings do such inhumane things if each of us is imbued with the spirit of the incarnate God? I don’t pretend to have the answer to that question. Yet I am absolutely convinced that every single human has the spark of the divine within them.
We can choose to bury that spark, to hide the light of Christ within us. We can choose to live in fear of losing material wealth or perceived power so that we harbor hatred for others. On the website of the Nanticoke Indian Tribe there is a story called “The Story of Two Wolves.” It goes like this….
“One evening, and elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather ‘Which wolf wins?’ The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’”
You see, we have the choice of what we feed inside us. We can feed hope or fear. We can cling to self-care or self-destructive behavior. We can feed love or hate. The beginning of a brand new year seems like the perfect time to take stock of ourselves, to become honest with ourselves, to choose life instead of simply existing day to day.
The light of the divine is placed within us by God. Each of us is, in the relationships we have with others in our lives, another incarnation of the risen Christ here on earth in our generation, in our time in history. We can choose to open ourselves to loving our neighbor or we can choose to hide that divine light under a shroud of regret or anger or fear. The choice is ours.
On this first Sunday of 2016 we pray for peace in the world. And we pray for the courage to face ourselves in all our brokenness and all our perfection. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Mary Ann Williamson.
“It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.”
My prayer for all of us is that we embrace that spark of the divine, the light of Christ, that shines forth from within us. So whatever comes our way this new year, we will face it together, supporting each other in prayer and friendship. May we all be blessed with health, happiness, and prosperity. And may we be wise enough to accept those gifts and let our light shine to the world.