December 2, 2005

Lighting of the Way

"...As we celebrate this Season of Light, let us make our Way here at Samford a holy space of community marked by that which is of the Light: What is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable, what is excellent and praiseworthy..."

Lighting of the WaySamford opened the Christmas season in traditional fashion on November 29 with its annual Lighting of the Way and Hanging of the Green events. Carol Ann Vaughn, Director of Samford's Christian Women's Leadership Center, offered devotional comments at the Hanging of the Green in Reid Chapel. The Belltower is publishing her text as a way to share the event with the entire Samford community, near and far.

"L et there be Light." And so the Word of God enters the world. As Christians we celebrate tonight the act of God breaking forth into our lives--even in dark, cold moments.

Cultures throughout history developed traditions to celebrate the importance of Light to human life--from the Jewish Festival of Lights to the Roman Saturnalia to pagan Winter Solstice observances. Wherever Christianity spread, more often than not there were already celebrations of Light. So, as followers of the Christ began to tell their story of Jesus through the Gospels and a holy day (holiday) called Christ Mass, we also gather this evening to celebrate the Way of the Light of the World.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people." (Luke 2: 8-10)

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2)

What is our response to this Light? What will we do with it? Jesus said, "You are the light of the world...Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Mathew 5: 14-15-16)

The Light came to dwell within each of us.

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Tonight, our world is plagued by an absence of Light: Destitution, destruction, despair. We are either part of dimming the Light, or we are part of sharing it.

"God is light . . . . But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. . . . Those who claim to be in the light but hate a fellow believer are still in the darkness." (1 John 1:5, 7, 2:9)

Here our prayer, O God: That, like the followers on the Way to Emmaus, like Paul on the Way to Damascus, we here at Samford University will see Your Light, recognize Truth, and be transformed by such miraculous encounters. Let us declare this campus our Road to Emmaus, our Road to Damascus, our Road to Transformation, where Your Light can--and will--dispel any spirit of darkness, oppression, denial, or turning of blind eyes to human suffering and exploitation.

As we celebrate this Season of Light, let us make our Way here at Samford a holy space of community marked by that which is of the Light: What is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, what is admirable, what is excellent and praiseworthy.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord," we read in Ephesians. "Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord…For it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'" (Eph. 5: 8-10, 14)

God is counting on us to Let There Be Light. Let us do so here at Samford.

"Arise, shine, for your light has come." (Isaiah 60: 1)

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