Mary Oliver wrote a Poem called, “Buddha’s Last Instruction” (online available: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2013/02/20/mary-oliver-the-buddhas-last-instruction)
The poem begins,
“MAKE OF YOURSELF A LIGHT” said the Buddha before he died. I think of this every morning as the East begins to tear off its many clouds of darkness…”
Oliver describes the Buddha’s personal transformation at his death, becoming as bright and as consuming as a sunrise – which frightens his followers, and leaves us as the reader awe-struck.
Seeking personal enlightenment is a popular form of spirituality in our culture today, but I have a different take on the Light, especially at Christmas.
I believe we gather around the manger under a different pretense – to assert our darkness and inability to make ourselves shine.
We gather around a Light, the true Light, the Light of the World, who breaks into our darkness and chases it away.
It is not our power, but God’s power that does this. It is not an assertion of will or goodness on our part, but God’s response to our desperation. It is not unlocking the God or Light within us, but an outside Word that comes to us as promise, and gives us hope. Light has come. It is the WORD MADE FLESH who has arrived – Jesus the Christ.
This morning we gather not to gaze into the beauty of a metaphoric sunrise, but the painful reality of human life; child-birth; a dirty stable among barn animals; human parents. and others who have heard the news and came to see it for themselves.
Come to this manger, and see it for yourself.
Bring all your darkness with you and stand in the Light. Listen for the WORD MADE FLESH. Give yourself to him as he shares with you his Light. Sing with one another, to proclaim this promise. Go tell it on the mountain. We may gather awe-struck, but we leave assured that we need not be afraid.
God’s Love, God’s Promise, God’s Light, God in Flesh breaks into our world – your world, for you. Light has come. Step out of the dark, and sing for joy!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14)