18 January 2008 * Epiphany 2B
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
Let Your Heart Be Light
One never knows where one will find inspiration – which literally means breathing in, as in, “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.” Inspiration literally means to breathe in. So we are meant to breathe in the Holy Spirit.
Which I must have been doing during a quick run through Barnes and Noble looking for a book I had heard about but did not know the title, author or any other pertinent information! But there on the cut-out table, marked down 50% was a tiny little book – it was the illustrated lyrics of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, first preformed by Judy Garland in the film, Meet Me In St. Louis.
When I flipped this tiny book over, on the flyleaf were the lyric, “Let your heart be light.” Well, I thought, that is really what these seasons of Epiphany and Christmas are all about – letting our hearts be Light.
So much so that on the First Sunday after Christmas we prayed, “Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives.”
Just as today we pray, that “Christ is the Light of the World…Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory…”
Enkindle – to stir up, fire up, inspire, rouse, awaken, ignite, instill, incite! It is all a way of saying that the Incarnation in which the Word becomes flesh and moves into the neighborhood does so by taking up residence in our hearts – the Light that is the Life of all persons resides within us, at our center. He makes a home in our hearts.
This light of each person is not meant for themselves, but meant for all, that all might see better the other gifts of creation. It is what Jesus talks about when he urges us not to hide this light, not to put it under a bushel, but to put it on a lamp-stand so it will give light to the whole household – which in Biblical terms is always meant “the Household of God.”
It is oiko in the Greek – from which we get words like economy (oiko-nomos, law of the household), and ecology (oiko-logie, study of the household, understood as the environment in which we live).
The idea is that we have all been given the gift of Light which is the Life of the world, Jesus. And that in giving it away, letting go of what we already have, is what gives us eternal life in return. It is the Light of Life. This Light is what unites us with God in Christ. And it is meant to give Light and Life to the whole world, everyone, all people.
To hold onto this Light, to hold onto our gifts, results in a world that is upside down from God’s view of things. So God came to us as Jesus to turn us right-side up again!
We have difficulties with all this. We find it difficult to believe God would give us a gift at all – so we hold onto it for dear life lest God stop giving us his Word, his Sacraments, his Light, and his Life.
Little do we suspect what difficulties this causes for others in the household. So much so that others begin to find it difficult to see the Light that shines within them. This causes the entire household to slip into darkness, a return to the darkness that covered the whole of the face of the world - before God spoke and there was Light.
Yet, we are those people who believe and pray that this Light is already enkindled, instilled, stirred up within all hearts everywhere. We need to believe what we pray and what God’s Word and Sacraments mean to instill and enkindle in our own hearts.
The story is told of the Preacher who went about town preaching, “Put God into your life. Put God into your life!” But the Holy Rabbi of the town said, “Our task is not to put God into our lives. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that!”
God is the ground of our being. The relationship between God and creature is such that, by sheer grace, separation is not possible. God does not know how to be absent. God is always at home. We are the ones who are not at home. We are not at home, even within ourselves.
Centering Prayer is one way we begin to see the Light that is already enkindled in our hearts. Centering Prayer is one way of coming home to God – the God who is Light and Life, the God who is always at home. The first language of God is silence – the silence of Centering Prayer.
Know, my sisters, my brothers, little by little – it takes time – Jesus will reveal to you how much he is with you all the time.
He calls you to follow him
So that you may do something beautiful with your life and bear much fruit.
The world needs you, the Church needs you, Jesus needs you.
They need your love and your Light.
There is a hidden place in your heart where Jesus lives.
This is a deep secret you are called to live.
Let Jesus live in you.
Go forward with him!
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas,
Let your Heart be Light.