By

Gospel of John 1:6-28
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7 He came
as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through
him.  8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the
light.
19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and
Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  20 He confessed
and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”  21 And
they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”  22 Then they said to him,
“Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What
do you say about yourself?”  23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying
out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the
prophet Isaiah said.  24 Now they had been sent from the
Pharisees.  25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are
neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered
them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do
not know,  27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to
untie the thong of his sandal.”  28 This took place in Bethany across
the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Most of you are aware that one of the challenges of living
in the Cleveland area is lake-effect.
Lake-effect is defined as “a meteorological phenomenon in
which warm moist air rising from a body of water mixes with
cold dry air overhead resulting in precipitation especially
downwind.” (Merriam-Webster)
Of course, you’ve heard about lake-effect snow. But lake-
effect can also produce extreme cloudiness. That was one
aspect of living near Cleveland that I’d rather not face again.

For me, light is very important. Have you ever noticed that
people’s moods are elevated on sunny days, and tend to be more
sleepy and depressed on cloudy days?
Light and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your
brain. Exposure to light increases the brain’s release of a
hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting
mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Without
enough exposure to light, a person’s serotonin levels can dip low
causing sadness, lethargy and clinical depression.
Dim lighting, greyness and darkness trigger the brain to
make another hormone called melatonin. This hormone is
responsible for helping a person feel sleepy.
We are told by the author of John’s Gospel that John-the-
Baptizer was sent by God to testify to the light. One of the
verses included in John’s Gospel but not assigned for today
reads: The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming
into the world (1:9).
Light can be used symbolically for an internal state of
knowledge or awareness. As the writer of this gospel uses the
phrase “enlightens everyone”, light has a universal, life-giving
quality, yet assumes choice.
I see the correlation of this symbolic understanding of light
with that of natural light sparking the increase of serotonin,
providing feelings of calmness, focus, happiness and joy.

I don’t think it a far stretch of the imagination to say that
the light of God, Christ Jesus, offers humanity a quality of life
that embraces an awareness of our need for God, and awareness
of God’s merciful love. It is a quality of life with a focus that is
significant and purpose-filled. It is a quality of life providing
calmness and joy and happiness stemming from a valued
connectedness with God and one another, as well as a deep trust
in God’s self-giving love.
The light of the world can dramatically affect our lives if
only we respond to that light. It is our choice.
When we do choose to respond, I’m confident that Jesus,
the light of God, sparks a light of God in you and me. That light
motivates us – in such ways as giving for the sake of others –
like the 74 Reverse Advent Christmas Food Baskets you and
others in the broader community gave, and we transported to St.
Andrew’s Church to share with people possessing meager
resources in west Dayton.
I so love this time of the year. Not only do I enjoy giving
gifts, hearing Christmas carols and contemplating the mystery of
the Christmas Story, I also am energized by Christmas lights.
I’m sure you’re aware that Christmas lights not only
symbolize the light of the Star of Bethlehem, but also, they are
symbols of Jesus, God’s light coming into the world.
Even though it’s a little early for Episcopalians, I can’t help
myself. During the last two weeks, I’ve sat in our family room
staring at our colorfully lighted Christmas tree. And, we have
the front of our house lighted as well.

I cannot wait until Christmas Eve to turn on the lights, so
we enjoy those wonderful lights now.
As you continue preparing for the celebration of Christ
Jesus’ birth, embrace the light of God coming into the world.
Let the lights shine on our houses, on our Christmas trees, and in
our lives. Let’s light up the world with the light of the world!

 
St. Paul's is located at 33 W. Dixon Ave, Dayton, OH 45419; phone: 937-293-1154; fax: 937-293-3723 Office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.