“I saw the light, I saw the light. No more in darkness; no more in night. Now I’m so happy; no darkness in sight. Praise the Lord, I saw the light!” Now that’s a blast from the past. But it’s an old Gospel song I remember fondly from my youth. And it expresses an ancient desire of we humans: We don’t like the dark!
Of course we do grow out of this, at least in theory! Still, there’s nothing worse than groping in the dark and stubbing your toe!
Darkness means we can’t use one of our primary senses to avoid obstacles, reach our destination, and observe our surroundings. Darkness impedes our ability to move, communicate, and to get our bearings. Darkness hides the world from us and us from the world. But, wait a minute, there is an “advantage” to darkness, isn’t there? Well, not so much an advantage, but a reason why we humans sometimes “like” darkness. Jesus said that people love darkness because their deeds are evil (see John 3:19). No wonder there are some “businesses” that prefer being down dark alleys. No wonder we humans seek out the concealment of darkness for our less than proper activities: we know our actions are wrong, so we hide. No wonder Adam and Eve kicked this all too human pattern off by hiding in the Garden when they heard God walking in the cool of the day (the Light). So, a sure cue that we are on a wrong path is when we are always hiding our actions!
But we were meant for light! We were meant to live in the light and to act in the light and to thrive in the light. Darkness makes our lives small and sequestered. Light opens our lives up to the wide possibilities of all of God’s good creation.
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning in Luke 2:22-40:
At that time, the parents brought the child Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Symeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
“Lord, now let your servant depart in peace,according to your word;for my eyes have seen your salvationwhich you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,a light for revelation to the Gentiles,and for glory to your people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Symeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
St. Simeon declares that he can finally “depart in peace” because he had seen the Lord’s salvation and it was a “light of revelation” to the nations (the Gentiles) and the glory of the people of Israel. This “light of revelation” is such a powerful phrase because it bears the eternal wisdom of God’s loving kindness to all His creation. This “light of revelation” is a true and real dawn of freedom, hope, and love, especially for those who have lacked the blessing and benefits of being the People of God who had had all the wisdom of the prophets, the holy scriptures, and the worship of the Jewish people. This “light of revelation” now extends God’s wisdom and love to every person in the world and offers even the “stranger” and the “Gentile” the blessings of being the People of God. This “light” reveals God’s intentions and His love for every person. No wonder we pray this very prayer of St. Simeon at every evening Vespers service. No wonder we bask in God’s light even in times of darkness.
Today, are you able to “see” the light of God shining on your life? Does His Light keep you from stumbling over the pitfalls of your everyday existence? At every liturgy, in every wise spiritual discipline of the Faith, during every Church season, the Faith once for all delivered to the saints invites you and me to step into the “light of revelation” and avoid tripping in the darkness of our own smallness. It’s time to bask in the light given to us freely by our God Who loves us more than we, ourselves, will ever love. It’s time to be Orthodox on Purpose.
P.S. Have you shared these daily devotionals with someone else? When you share these devotionals, you partner with us in spreading the word about our beautiful faith. This willingness to share your greatest treasure, your faith, is another spiritual discipline that will help you be Orthodox on Purpose. Share this with someone today and encourage them to share it as well.