January 10, 2021
(Isaiah 60:1-6; Matthew 2:1-12)
After this past week’s events, if one thinks it couldn’t possibly get worse, we would be quite wrong. Over the years, I often would reflect how amazingly civilized our country is; we follow the rules of the road, we work in positions that help our fellow mankind and keep our lives going, we respect our neighbors, since the Civil War we have been quite unified, our democracy worked, etc. However, this has been challenged in many ways the past couple of years – and then this past week happened. Is this the same country that was founded on Christian values?
For Christmas, I reflected on the Light of Christ - the Christ child. This past Wednesday was the traditional day of the Epiphany. And I reflected on it more deeply the past couple of days, and I thought of a solitary candle set on a table outside. Let me attempt to illustrate.
I lit a candle outside when near dusk. The sky began to darken but the Sun was still shining even on the candle. The light of the candle blended in with the light of the day. The 2 lights were in harmony but then what happened? It grew dark. So, now the light of the candle was no longer in harmony with its surroundings. It no longer blended in. As the sky darkened the candle stood out more and more dramatically. It was not the candle that changed but everything around it. So, now it was shining in marked contrast to its surroundings and against the darkness.
The candle in the day, when the sun was still shinning, represents the believer who shines in the midst of a Christian civilization. Its light blends in with the surrounding culture. The culture is in harmony with the light, at least on the outside, and appears to support it.
But the candle in the night represents the believer who shines in the midst of a post Christian civilization, an apostate civilization, an Anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, anti-God civilization. Now the cultural supports as external props are removed. The light of the Gospel is no longer in harmony with the surrounding culture. The surrounding culture now stands increasingly in opposition to the light. The light cannot blend in. It must now increasingly stand out in contrast to its surroundings, and increasingly shine against the flow.
So, if you had a choice, which candle would you rather be, the candle of the day or the candle of the night?
As Christians, we must be the candle of the night. It is the candle of the night that changes the world. The candle that shines in daylight can hardly be seen. But the candle that shines in the darkness can be seen miles away. It is at the very time when it is hardest to shine the light, that it is most crucial that you do. It is then that the light is most needed. And that is when the light becomes its most powerful.
We are amid darkness in our country – a darkness that comes and surrounds us like never before. Our nation is not the nation as it was four short years ago. Sadly, while some can see what is happening and acknowledge the cause(s), others say otherwise.
We should not and cannot go back to the previous centuries that pits our races against one another, our gender against one another, who one loves against one another. This would indeed be a post Christian civilization, an apostate civilization, an Anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, anti-God civilization. So many of us claim to be faithful to our religion, yet none of the three largest faiths encourage the challenges we have been facing from our fellow mortals. They speak out against it! How can one get mad at someone kneeling during the national anthem and then storm the capital and defecate in its interior??
As people of America, we must join in prayer to our Almighty God, our Light, our candle in the darkness, to give us strength to fight back this horrid hateful path we have stubbled upon. We must beg our Lord Christ to bring His radical love into our country and our people. He can be our candle and should be. Let us not waiver to be the knights of this Light. Let Christ fill our hearts so that we may be the candles of light everywhere we go and to everyone we meet. Let us be the voices of reason and never give up doing so!
So, never fear the darkness. You are the light shining, especially into the night and you light up the world. For Christ said, “Do not fear, it is I!” (John 6:20 Paraphrased)
St. Francis has words for us in the form of a prayer attributed to him. As you join me in prayer this week for our beloved nation, finish with these words:
Lord make Me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine master grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To be understood, as to understand.
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born...
To eternal life.
God Love You +++
++ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, CA
We have been blessed by some of you who have generously given to help us keep the lights on and the church and rectory insured - I couldn’t possibly express my gratitude enough! We are not completely out of the woods yet, so I continue to ask for donations and prayers! God Bless you all!