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Advent Devotion 12.9.19

‘You are the light of the world.’  Matthew 5: 14
In her book Becoming Wise Krista Tippet interviews Jewish physician Rachel Naomi Remen who recounts her Hasidic rabbi grandfather’s strange, mystical story of creation. It goes something like this. In the beginning, there was only God, the divine light, who was the source of life. God created the universe using the divine light and gave it to humanity to tend. But humanity broke the universe and the light was scattered and became hidden. The only way to restore the universe was to find the light. God gave humanity “… the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again and thereby restore the innate wholeness of the world. … It’s the restoration of the world.”
Remen goes on to say something profound:
“And this [restoration of the world] is, of course a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are healers of the world. That story opens a sense of possibility. It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It’s about healing the world that touches you, that’s around you.”
This story and Dr. Remen’s comment made me think that this might have been what Jesus was talking about in today’s text. Let’s read the entire passage.
14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
When we become disciples of Jesus, we are enlightened by God and are given the capacity to shine light on the world around us. When we light up the world, even if it’s just the part of the world that touches us, we become healers of the world.
What does it look like to shine the light? Maybe like the statement on the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Or maybe it’s what Jesus said. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Give water to the thirsty. Care for the sick. Visit the prisoners. In other words, care about and for each other. Even if it’s just the “other” nearest to you in whatever way you can.

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