'God’s Widening Light'
Wednesday, December, 27, 2017 | 2:26 PM | by Munholland
Isaiah foretold the Messiah’s salvation in an unusual way: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) The Messiah was coming for the Israelites as expected, but also for the Gentiles which was rather unexpected. That is the way it is with God’s love. It extends out to people unlike us - people we don’t like and who don’t like us. God who made the world and all who live in it has always had his eye on its full renewal. Abraham and his descendants were chosen to shine the light of God for all people. Many of the Israelites had forgotten the larger calling of Israel to be the widening light of God’s salvation. They wanted a Messiah who would side with them against all their enemies. They wanted military victory and cultural vindication. They wanted Rome and the other nations to pay for their godlessness and oppression.
I have been blessed with opportunities to see God’s widening light of salvation around the world. I worked in a southeastern slum of Mexico City called Agrarista. There I saw God’s healing, forgiveness and joy received by the poorest of the poor – even by local gang members. In Durham, England I worshipped at St. Mary’s church which was a thousand years old. The light of Christ had been shining from that old Romanesque architecture from generation to generation of British. In Communist Vietnam, God’s light shown out of the darkness of persecution. A woman and her son were called to restore a worshipping congregation after her husband and oldest son were taken to prison and murdered for their faith. Her faithfulness to God’s call led the church to over 20,000 worshipping members that reached out into the many surrounding mountain villages. They even began a training school to raise up new pastors. Worshipping in Mexico, England, Vietnam, Italy, Cambodia, Haiti, and Australia, I have come to appreciate the expansive nature of God’s salvation which was announced to the shepherds, ‘I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’(Luke 2:10)
How often do we forget this basic message? In a tribal society with factions that seek each other’s destruction, we can get caught up in anger and hate, forgetting the good news of great joy that is for all people – most of all our ‘enemies’. From East Coast to West Coast, and everything in between - those who are sophisticated and those who are simple; those who are worldly-wise and those who lead sheltered, parochial lives; those who love theater and those who love hunting; those who are progressives and those who are conservatives; those who are narrow-minded, those who are open-minded. God’s news – the Good News - is for all people of all social classes, tribes, and languages.
In this Christmas season, let’s worship God with eyes wide open to see God’s salvation coming to all people. Let’s recommit ourselves and Munholland to be a part of God’s widening light of salvation in Metairie, NOLA, and the ends of the earth!
Blessed to be a blessing,