Sermons by Rev. Bonnie
Let Your Light Shine
December 22, 2009
As the days move from summer to fall to winter, I will admit that I go into some mourning for the longer hours of sunlight, not to mention the warmer temperatures. Darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon is rough for me. And yet, to every season there is a reason. And the reason for this season is presents, right? Now you may think I’m talking about Zhu Zhu pets or sweaters or iTouch phones. No, but I am still talking about presence—just spelled differently—not
p r e s e n t s—gifts that come with pretty paper and bright ribbons– but p r e s e n c e. The reason for this season is presence—the presence of Spirit—of the Divine—and from that the presence of love, light, and faith.
And that Divine presence is exemplified in the Hanukkah story. The word Hanukkah when translated into English means dedication. In that story we reflect on the miracle of the oil—how a small container—barely a day’s worth of oil—lasted for eight days until more oil could be prepared. Yes, that speaks of Divine presence and intervention. And Divine presence showed up elsewhere in the story. Let’s go back in time—2200 years ago–to that Temple in Jerusalem. And, let’s eavesdrop on a conversation between four of the people who are looking at that small vat of oil.
Person #1 looks at the small bit of oil and says, “Don’t even bother to light it. It’s not enough. It’s a waste of time.”
Person #2 also looks at the oil and says, “Well, what the heck, light it if you want. It’s not going to last and it really won’t make much of a difference. Whatever.”
Person #3 adds, “Yes, definitely let’s light it. Sure it won’t last more than a day, but it will bring us some light and remind us of God’s presence for that short bit of time.”
Finally, Person #4 takes the container of oil and immediately lights it and states, “We will light this oil. I have faith that this oil will last until we are able to prepare more. I trust in the presence of God to bring light into this dark space. I affirm that God’s light and presence is always available to us. While what is before us seems limited, I set the intention that our needs will be taken care of. I dedicate myself to stepping in faith with a God who is able.”
Which person would each of us be? Would we be the first one who says, “Don’t bother?” The second who says, “Go ahead but it won’t make a difference?” The third who states “Might as well—at least we’ll have some light.” Or the fourth who declares, “God will provide. I step forward in faith knowing that all of our needs will be provided for.” Another way to look at this is what is our view of this container of faith? Is it empty? Half empty? Half full? Or overflowing—that is, does it have more than enough to sustain us even when we doubt?
Here’s that choice thing that keeps appearing in our lives. Do we choose lack or abundance? Do we go with not enough or with overflow? Do we wallow in our dark moments or do we affirm that God’s light, love, and presence is always available to us? Now, I’m the first to admit that I have had my wallowing moments. Moments when I delved into “Woe is me”, “No one cares”, “Nothing I say or do makes a difference.” Does this sound familiar to anyone? I’ve had moments in the past when I’ve allowed the dark to eclipse the light. Yes—I’ve allowed my brain to have an eclipse—to believe that the light of life, of joy, of each new day would never reappear. Silly me!
God’s light can show up in our lives in many ways. In fact, this reminds me of a story. There was once a man named Elroy who was 70 years old, and the time came for his annual physical. All of his test results came back normal. Dr Smith said, “Elroy, everything looks great physically. How are you doing mentally and emotionally? Are you at peace with yourself, and do you have a good relationship with God?” (Now I’ve never heard a doctor ask that—but I digress)
Elroy replied, “God and me are real tight doc. He knows I have poor eyesight, so he’s fixed it so that when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, POOF the light goes on when I pee, and then POOF the light goes out when I’m done.”
“Wow,” commented Dr. Smith, “That’s incredible!”
A little later in the day, Dr. Smith called Elroy’s wife.
“Thelma,” he said, “Elroy is just fine. Physically he’s great, but I had to call because I’m in awe of his relationship with God. Is it true that he gets up during the night, and POOF the light goes on in the bathroom, and then POOF it goes off when he’s done?”
Thelma exclaimed, “That old fool! He’s peeing in the refrigerator again!”
So, just a reminder to make sure the light we see does come from God and not the inside of our refrigerators.
In Judaism, an Eternal Light (Ner Tamid) hangs above the ark in every synagogue. The sages interpreted the Ner Tamid as a symbol of God’s eternal and imminent Presence in our communities and in our lives.
How do we step in faith that the ever-lasting light of Spirit, the Ner Tamid, is always available to show us the way? How do we let our light shine? How do we let our light shine? I am proposing three steps to do this. To help us remember them, in this season of holiday joy, I christened them the steps to Get LIT: LOVE, INTEND, TRANSFORM
LOVE-The Course in Miracles states, “Fear or love—there is nothing else.” As we navigate our way through dark times—times of financial instability, relationship unrest, military conflicts, health concerns, family turmoil—we have a choice as to how we will respond to those challenges. A response that is fear-based or a response that is love-based? A response that keeps us in lack, or a response that reminds us that at the core of our being all is well? A response that keeps us mired in our muck, or a response that raises our energetic vibration to connect us with the Oneness of our Creator? Anything that is not of Love, of God, is an illusion. How do we find the strength, the courage, and yes—the dedication to return to and stay in Love? Name it. Claim it. Affirm it. Affirmations such as: There is no separation between God and me. All that God is I am. God is Love and I am Love. God’s love and light always shines within me. I will let my light shine. I will get out of God’s way. I will allow Divine love to move through my body, my heart, and my soul. I will choose love. I affirm that my vial of oil is enough. And it is by choosing love that I will let my light shine. As we Get LIT the L stands for LOVE.
INTEND-An intention is a statement of expected or desired outcomes related to a specific life experience or relationship. The focal point of an intention is on what we will create and how that intention will govern our activities. An intention is a statement which clearly identifies what we are choosing to create and bring forward in our lives. So what are we choosing to create? How about this for starters? A life that moves us from dark into light. A life that rejects worry and embraces calm. A life where doubt subsides and faith endures. If our intention is to be the receptacle and conveyer of divine light we must know we are worthy of it, capable of achieving it, and deserving to live it. With the help of a spiritual life coach or other mentor we can work to align our thoughts, words, and behaviors and bring that intention to reality. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As we affirm our Oneness with Spirit, and as we move into a regular practice of meditation, prayer, and praise roadblocks will be removed. See the light. Believe in the light. Intend it to be so. Let me repeat that: See the light. Believe in the light. Intend it to be so. Intend to let the light shine within and through you. Intend for your oil to be enough and know that it is. As we move closer to Getting LIT, the I stand for Intend.
TRANSFORM-We’ve all seen those toys called transformers—right? They start out as one thing and with a few quick hand movements morph into something else. That’s what we are called upon to do with all of our thoughts, stories, behaviors, beliefs, hurts, disappointments, and attitudes that keep us in the dark. Transform them. Take a moment now—everyone—and bring to mind a particular situation, person, or issue that you are having trouble shedding light onto. Let’s ask ourselves: “Is this situation, person, or issue serving my highest good?” “By continuing to feel darkness around this situation, person, or issue am I living the life I desire?” “Am I getting out of God’s way or am I in God’s way as I move towards my intended love-filled life?” Transform the fear. Transform the inertia. Transform the doubt, the hopelessness, and the despair. Know that your oil will last you a lifetime. Know that your faith will last you a lifetime. Know that you have all you need to keep your flame burning brightly. Move to Get LIT with the T of Transform.
And so, I ask again, which person would each of us be as we regarded the small jar of oil? How full is our container of faith? Would we be the first one who says, “Don’t bother.” The second who says, “Go ahead but it won’t make a difference?” The third who states “Might as well light it—at least we’ll have some light for awhile.” Or the fourth who declares, “God will provide. I step forward in faith knowing that all of our needs will be provided for.” Which container of faith are you? Empty? Half empty? Half full? Overflowing?
The Hanukkah story talks about dedication and the miracle of the oil. We know that miracles are merely shifts in perceptions. We know that miracles happen instantly and easily. A miracle is simply the right answer; an expression of love, a divine moment when we know that all is well. Allowing our light to shine is an expression of love—love of self, love of each other, and love of Spirit. It is that love that makes us whole. It is that Divine light that brings us out of our self-imposed darkness. Today, let’s get LIT: Love. Intend. Transform. Let’s dedicate ourselves to LET OUR LIGHT SHINE.
In this season of presence—not the material kind—the spiritual kind—may all of us affirm our inner light and may that light burn brightly for eternity.
© 2019 Bonnie J. Berger. All rights reserved.