Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Season of Epiphany

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, 
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you." (Isaiah. 60.1)

In the pre-dawn darkness of a recent Sunday morning I saw a light. 

Of course I saw many lights shining in the darkness of that early hour as I was driving to Carlisle, Pennsylvania where I am the student intern (the Vicar) at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. In the yards of the many homes I passed I saw figures of deer lit up with small bright white lights, there was a house with two windows that flashed a red Santa in a green sleigh, and there were many homes with their roofs outlined with white icicle lighting or multicolored lights outlining trees and shrubs. All of these were interesting and I enjoyed the scenery as I made my way along the road to St. Paul's. However, these Christmas lights did not cause me to slow down nor did I need to ponder more deeply about why these decorations were put up each year.

"For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you." (Isa. 60.2)

As I drove along I kept looking up through the tree limbs and watching this one solitary light I mentioned earlier. I thought that it was strange to see this lonely light shining solo from its high vantage point up on the ridge. At first it looked small, but the more I watched it, the more I recognized that it was made more brilliant because it was shining out of the immense darkness of those mountains that appear just to the west and north of Idaville along route 34. The light was enhanced further as it contrasted with the black ink covered skies above. The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that it must be a very large light because it had shined so brightly from so far away; I wondered who put it there?

Whoever put up that light must have been thinking about the many people who would see it, they must have wanted the viewers to know about the joyful coming of God's light to the world, the light that we celebrate in the season of Epiphany. I thought about the many people who live in the dark places of our world. Darkness can exist in many dimensions of our lives. It can be literal, as when we don't get enough of the sunlight that our bodies need for good health, or it can be spiritual, as when we become deprived of the goodness and love that God made us in and desires for us to have always. 

Seeing the light up on the ridge, and thinking of the community upon which it was shining brought me a level of gratitude for the comfort and hope represented by its brightness and rays. The person or persons who had erected this light and who were paying for the power used to make it shine were demonstrating their love and concern for all who would see it. Like Isaiah's verses written to the people of Israel who desperately needed reassurance that they were loved and sought after by God; so also, as many as would look up into the darkness of the night and see this light, these ones would be directed toward answers to their questions about the Source of hope and love. May we also become beacons of hope and love as we embrace the light of Christ come to us in this season of Epiphany.

"Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice . . . . for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified you." (Isa. 60.5, 9b)

Peace and good will to all!

Read more writings of Pastor Jon