Our Vulnerability Leads Us To Our Greatest Gift - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Our Vulnerability Leads Us To Our Greatest Gift

January 8th, 2019 SanTan Sun News
Our Vulnerability Leads Us To Our Greatest Gift

By Rev. Susan Wilmot

Guest Writer

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,” proclaims the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 60:1). That was probably rather a stretch for Isaiah’s audience after what they’d been through in exile.

For those who remained behind, it probably seemed like the darkness would have no end. Perhaps a few of us feel the same kind of worldly darkness pushing against the light of Christ within us at this time of year.

Just because the calendar has clicked over into a new year, the challenges we faced in 2018 haven’t magically disappeared, and are perhaps being exacerbated by financial hardships after our Christmas splurges.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come.” Isaiah speaks of the restoration and renewal of the covenant people, who are to be a light to the nations. Isaiah speaks of God’s promises fulfilled through the kind of peace and justice associated with God’s shalom, and the establishment of God’s kingdom. Isaiah’s prophetic words are again fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. He is the light that can never be overcome by darkness.

Even in a world that looks as if violence, greed and corruption have gained the upper hand, the kingdom of God is still here, alive and well, wherever the faithful gather and share God’s love in word and deed. We’re called to do our part in restoring hope, and encouraging one another. We can always find ways to reconcile strained or broken relationships, especially as the Christmas season winds down and family members once again go their separate ways.

We always have the opportunity to give to those who are in need, sharing from our abundance. This is a great time of year to reveal God’s generosity to those who have little, or those who have no reason to feel hopeful or grateful to God. When love shines in our lives, it looks like hope, encouragement, reconciliation, generosity and gratitude, as well as loving-compassion and mercy.

Our hope is always in the Lord, and just like the Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem, we too can encounter the Lord. After their encounter with the Light of the World, the Magi leave on a new path, no doubt with new insights into God’s will for their lives.

With a little divine help, they apparently see right through Herod’s false claim to power (see Matthew 2:1-12). As followers of Jesus, we too expect to be changed by our daily encounters with all God’s children who bear the face of Christ for us. What new path is the Lord revealing to you? What new ways of being in the world are you being called to embody?

“Arise, shine; for your light has come.” As we see repeatedly in Scripture, those who commit to God in faith must humbly acknowledge that power and prosperity are God’s gifts, to be used for God’s purposes. How do we feel about that truth after our Christmas indulgences?

Living in the world as we do, it’s easy to become arrogant, asserting our independence in thought, word and deed, and erroneously believing that we’re the source of our success. It’s also a path to spiritual death.

A path that most of us walk down from time to time, at least for a little while, before we reorient our lives again to God’s will and God’s ways.

As the body of Christ in the world, we try to seek and follow Jesus’ way, in humility and gratitude to God. It’s always easier said than done because it means allowing God to restore and renew our vulnerability. The world’s thesaurus tells us that vulnerability equates to being weak, helpless and defenseless.

Our ego protests mightily because we’re well trained in the world’s dog-eat-dog ways. Life teaches us to keep our defenses in place, ready to attack, whenever necessary. The world teaches us that there’s security and protection in acquiring power, wealth and material possessions.

We’ve got our work cut out for us to undo those lessons, to become and remain vulnerable enough to seek and live in Christ, knowing Christ’s constant coming and presence with us. Vulnerability also means openness.

So that in faith, trust and obedience we willingly risk God’s way, despite the almost overwhelming urge, born of fear, to assert our own will. As children of God, our power is God’s power, best used in service to the Lord.

The light of the world, Christ Jesus, our Lord, has come. Exploring what the light of Christ reveals is our mission for the season of epiphany. Isaiah shows us that faithful living expands God’s shalom, and builds God’s kingdom peace, justice and mutual prosperity.

We humbly bring our gifts to the Lord and follow His path to authentic life, whenever we share the abundance of God’s love and compassion, healing and forgiveness. As C.S. Lewis writes, “Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine so that, through you, others can see Him.”

Our vulnerability leads us to the greatest gift we’ll ever know, because it involves opening our hearts and minds to God’s will in Christ Jesus. A blessed New Year everyone!

The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is vicar at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe. Susan can be reached at rector@stjamestempe.org or at 480-345-2686. Check out our website at stjamestempe.org.