The UCC theme for this Sunday seems like we’ve been given the perfect focal point: Tending God’s Light.
I thought maybe we could begin by taking a moment of contemplation to consider what is God’s Light? What does God’s Light mean? Until we know what that is, how can we tend to it?
I don’t know what came up for you, but I immediately thought of the physical flames of God’s Light that are ritually used. I thought of the flame in Kildare that is tended by the Saint Brigit nuns so that the Light of God never goes out.
I thought of the Easter rituals where all the lights of the church are ritually put out to represent the darkness that comes without God’s Light. I thought of the Easter Vigil, when one candle is relit during Saturday’s service and the congregation sometimes might take turns tending and watching the candle overnight until Easter morning when the Light of God returns with Christ’s resurrection. I thought how beautiful it is that each member has the opportunity to spend time with God’s Light in quiet contemplation.
I thought of lighting of God’s candles that we do each Sunday that represent the opening ritual that we will spend time in God’s presence. We tend and connect to the light of the week before, the week before, all the way back to the beginning. Tending flame. Tending connection. Tending God’s Light.
I thought of the special candles for Advent that light up the world with God’s Light. I thought of the twinkle lights we decorate our homes with to represent light, God’s Light, in the darkness. I thought of the Menorah and the Festival of Lights. I thought of how other faiths use rituals of flame and light to connect to God’s Light.
There are so many rituals around light and flame and candles and God’s Light in the world. What are you thinking of when you think of God’s Light?
If we are to “tend” to God’s Light, what are we tending? The physical weekly flames? Yes. But what else? What is God’s light? Where is God’s Light? How do we, mere mortals, tend God’s Light?
I read the potential readings from the Lectionary for this week. Then, of course, there was talk this week of justice, the election, the darkness. We can do ourselves a mess when we are overthinking…thinking. Thinking. Thinking.
Thinking is good. A few verses later in the Wisdom of Solomon, we have: “the true beginning of wisdom is the desire to learn.” So, yeah, thinking is good. But, knowledge, thinking, is very different than wisdom. Wisdom is the desire to learn and: “a concern for learning means a love for her.” Wisdom. A desire not just to “know” or to be “right”, but to be wise. I don’t believe that wisdom is “right”. I don’t believe that wisdom resides in the brain. I think that knowledge may reside in the brain, but I believe that wisdom resides in the heart. The same place that I believe God’s Light resides. In each of us. Yes, every one of us.
I first read other potential Scripture passages and I read darkness and more darkness. Passages that tell us that sometimes we think we’ve escaped one monster only to find ourselves in the midst of more monsters. There is a lot of darkness and yes, there is a lot to be gleaned from accepting the darkness and confronting the things in the dark. There is a lot to be learned in discussing these passages. But when are we feeding more darkness, when we might already feel overwhelmed. It didn’t feel like tending God’s Light in this moment. When are we over focusing on what is dark and needs to be fixed versus finding wisdom and being the Light.
Maybe we need to focus our attention not on the dark, but on the Light. And our job, our call to action. This call to tend the Light.
But then again, maybe not. Maybe we do need to focus on the dark and the scary things so that we can work through them. Maybe we’re over focused on the light, when the story, the moment, is darkness and challenge. Sometimes, we do ourselves a mess by overthinking…
What should we do? How to we confront darkness? How can we use these dark stories to bring us to the light?
Then, the wise words of Solomon. I breathed a big sigh of relief. My shoulders relaxed. And I was sure the light is the right path, the right path to share. Solomon talks of his love of Wisdom. How wisdom is the bridge to God. Wisdom just might be…God’s Light. I had intended to let us each explore what God’s Light meant to us, and that is still important, but the answer it seems was given. Trust.
It seemed even more right when I read that Solomon’s Book was written in response to “the perennial problem of the wicked prospering and the good suffering to crisis level.” Yes, there is darkness. We can not be blind to the darkness. But when there is darkness, perhaps we need more light…
The Wisdom of Solomon says this: “I called for help and there came to me a spirit of wisdom. I valued her above scepter and throne, and reckoned riches as nothing beside her; I counted no precious stone her equal.”
This precious stone. Wisdom. God’s Light.
We have been gifted a passage that pulled me from the darkness to light. That we don’t have to have the answers, that we can be seekers on the path. Together. That what we believe may be different, or out right clash, but if we allow our shoulders to soften, and stop clinging to doing what we’re supposed to do, in the ‘right” way, that maybe we can soften enough to listen.
To listen to that little voice within that say: Tend God’s Light. Yes, that’s exactly what we need to do.
That little voice that says, you are a precious stone and you have so much to offer.
That little voice that says, despite everything we’re seeing and hearing and reading…there is Light. There is Light. It is God’s Light. It is in each of us. Awaken your little flame and tend it. And when you feel strong enough, tend the flame of another. And another. And another. Until you are strong enough to tend the flame of everyone you meet. Not to be “right”. Not to have the “answer”. To illuminate one another’s God Light.
To seek knowledge with the Love, God’s Love, Christ’s Love, so that you are just a little bit closer to wise. That we may help others to seek and find their own Light and Wisdom.
Because “wise men in plenty are the world’s salvation”.