Sermon For Sunday, December 22, 2013

Luke 11:33-35 & Luke 1:67-80

“Discover The Light: The Light Brings Love – And Calls Us To Proclaim It”

Franklin Circle Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cleveland, Ohio ~ www.FranklinCircleChurch.org

Rev. Allen V. Harris, pastor & preacher

Twitter: @FranklinCircle ~ Pastor’s Blog: https://nearwestclevepastor.wordpress.com

“I love you.”  Three of the most magical, sought after, longed for, life changing words in the English language.  “I love you.”  Relationship status’ on Facebook are changed instantly when those words are uttered.  Divorce papers are filed when they have not been shared for years.  When heard on the phone they can melt the heart of a son or daughter miles away at college or when written at the bottom of a letter they can warm the heart of a loved one stationed overseas.  I. Love. You.  A noun, a verb, and a direct object that make a complete sentence.

Fiddler On The Roof: Andrea Martin as Golde & Harvey Fierstein as Tevye. (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

Fiddler On The Roof: Andrea Martin as Golde & Harvey Fierstein as Tevye. (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

But it’s not an easy sentence to be said, for sure.  Or if it is said too quickly or easily, then it must be called into question.  More importantly, if it is offered as mere words, with no deeds attached it is trivial, perhaps even offensive or dangerous.  This is the conversation Tevye and Golde have in the midst of the Broadway musical “The Fiddler On The Roof.”  Teyve asks his wife “Do you love me,” and she is taken aback.  She replies:

Do I love you?With our daughters getting married

And this trouble in the town

You’re upset, you’re worn out

Go inside, go lie down!

Maybe it’s indigestion

But not to be deterred, Teyve asks again: “But do you love me?”  Golde responds:

For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothesCooked your meals, cleaned your house

Given you children, milked the cow

After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

Teyve is persistent.  Golde finally responds, after listing a few more things they’ve gone through together, “If that’s not love, what is?”  Teyve feels a bit more assured and asks, “Then you love me?,” and Golde offers a response, “I suppose I do.” (1)

Scripture, which talks a lot about love, also puts it into a more practical light – so to speak.  Throughout the gospels the image of light is important as a metaphor both for Jesus himself, but also for the message that shines from those who follow Jesus, preach his message, and do his will.  In Luke 11 we heard the injunction that once a light is lit, it isn’t put into a cellar, but on a lampstand “so that those who enter may see the light.”  Light, like love, isn’t meant to be kept in the basement but is meant to be declared publicly.  As I frequently say to congregations who talk about being hospitable and welcoming of all God’s children but who do not feel the need to talk about it or publicize it: “If it is truly Good News, then it must be proclaimed!”

In one of the most delightful and evocative stories in the nativity narrative Luke tells us that Zachariah was struck mute when he questioned the words of the angel that he and his elderly wife, Elizabeth, would have a child, and that this child would prepare the way for the long-awaited Messiah.  When the babe was finally born, and Elizabeth went against the custom of naming the male child after his father and instead named him John, Zechariah confirmed in writing the name of John and was then once again able to speak.  This prophecy, read earlier, is what poured from his mouth.  He spoke of God-promises being fulfilled, of being rescued by and of serving God.  He spoke of tender mercy and the knowledge of salvation, of forgiveness and light guiding the feet of all who would follow.

Zechariah, beautiful art by Patsy Paterno that can be found on the artists website: http://patsypat.blogspot.com/2013/12/are-you-elizabeth.html

Zechariah, beautiful art by Patsy Paterno that can be found on the artists website: http://patsypat.blogspot.com/2013/12/are-you-elizabeth.html

Zachariah, who had experienced first hand a kind of shadow, was quite prepared to step into the light once he understood that he, his wife and newborn child were part of the Good News of God and the in-breaking of the Commonwealth of God.  In only two days we will hear, also, of the light of the angels that compelled shepherds herding their flocks by night to follow the light and proclaim the good news of “Glory to God, peace on earth, goodwill toward all.”  In a few weeks we will celebrate the widening of this circle of light as magi from foreign lands followed the light of a star and then were compelled to take this good news back to the ends of the earth.

Beloved, we are likewise part of the Good News of God and we are absolutely participants in the in-breaking of the Commonwealth of God.  Each of us, in our own particular way, has had the light of God shed upon us and the love that shines from that light must be shared.  The light of the love of God simply cannot be contained.

You – me – us!  We all must find ways to let the light of the love of Christ shine through us, in both word and deed, thought and creed!  I invite us to not wallow mute and pitiful in the shadows of the cellars of our lives, but step out into God’s glorious light and offer praises to God, who is the God of Light and Love.  If this means telling someone the “old, old story of Jesus and his love,” then tell it.  If it means inviting other beggars to the place where you found bread, invite them!  If it means sweating and serving and pulling and pushing the Beloved Community into existence, then sweat and serve, push and pull!  Invite someone to church!  Tell someone else why you go to church!  If actions are your prayers, then let folks know that is your spiritual path.   Love was meant to be lived and shared!  I don’t care how you do it, just proclaim it!

You, my beloved, are an integral part of the Good News of Jesus Christ!  Proclaim it!

Amen.

(1) Lyrics found online at: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/fiddlerontheroof/doyouloveme.htm

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