United Methodist Church
“the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16b (ESV)
Wow, it’s that time of year again, Christmas, one of my two favorite holidays. This month’s musing was inspired by one of my First15 devotions. This passage was the impetus as it reminded me of the Star of Bethlehem. I grew up with a lighted star on the top of every Christmas tree we put up. Stars play a big role in our Christmas decorations but I fear that for many the reason for them has lost its original meaning. I know that I did not see its significance as I was growing up. After I gave my life to Christ I learned that the very first Christmas star was God’s wonderful way of spotlighting the true Star of Bethlehem, Let’s go back and take a look at the story surrounding both of these stars.
Israel was living in dark times, much like what we are experiencing today. They were a divided kingdom and under the tyrannical rule of the Roman Empire. They had a cruel despot for a king and many of the people were living in poverty. Taxation had left many people destitute and some even homeless. There were many people just praying to survive another year. There was one group who was looking for a warrior Savior to lead them in a revolt against the empire. Some were happy with the status quo, probably because they were benefitting from it. People had great expectations but none of them were expecting the event that would change the course of history. There were even some who knew the Torah and were awaiting the Savior it pointed to.
That day came and God tried to get their attention but he could not get them to look his way. Isn’t that amazing? Here is an unnatural, or at least rare, phenomenon and only a few truly caught on to what was going on. The Star shining down that day was God’s way of telling the world that something spectacular was happening in a very special place. God was shining a spotlight on one of his greatest achievements and only a few were witnesses to what it was announcing. The birth of his Son, Jesus, was a turning point in God’s plan. That’s because his coming guaranteed the end of the darkness that was reigning over the earth. The Star of Bethlehem was witnessed by many but only a few truly knew the reason for it. The Star of Bethlehem came because God had promised his coming the day that Adam and Eve were escorted out of Eden.
It was the fulfillment of many promises made throughout the Old Testament to God’s chosen people and us. The passage above is a prophecy found in Isaiah 9:2, which was fulfilled on the day of Jesus’ birth, "The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned." The birth of Jesus did just that. The lives of the few who took part in God coming in human flesh into the world were changed forever. To those who came to pay homage to the baby, lying in a feed trough in a stable, a dramatic change took place. Wow! That in itself is an amazing story but it does not end there.
We are constantly being surrounded by the Light of that first Christmas. God’s illuminating Spirit shines brightly and those who are truly seeking God will see it. It is the Spirit’s job to shine the light of Jesus on us and dispel the darkness that keeps us from seeing God for who he really is. I think this is why I love the lights of Christmas so much. We live in a world filled with darkness of all forms. On any given day we are witnesses to acts of violence, threats of danger, and natural disasters all over the world. Our daily lives are inundated with temptation after temptation, lie after lie, darkness after darkness. The Christmas lights are a reminder of that this season of light addresses the answer to the darkness of the world.
God is constantly speaking to us through common, everyday events in our lives. In them he is seeking to get our attention and focus us on him. There are some very special times in the year when God really steps up that influence in our lives. That is because the season is what opens the door to do so. He uses this time to share one special message to us all, God so loved us that he sent his Son to save us from the darkness and to give us a new life in the Light of his love. What does that mean to those of us who get it?
We have been delivered from a life marked by darkness and we are now free to accept the greatest gift God has to offer. We are blessed to help out with the family business. We began carrying the light of the world the moment that we said yes to Jesus. Our light doesn't depend on what we did yesterday or the thought we just had. We are the light because God dwells in us and through us. He is constantly seeking ways to us to further his kingdom work. We just need to live with faith in what God has spoken over our lives. All we need to do is to look for opportunities to see his Word spoken over us and, as we respond, see it come to fruition.
God has equipped us to be an influence in this world, especially to the people around us. In our new lives, our love for each other, and our love for the Lord, we are purposed and equipped to keep the darkness at bay. He has called you and me to be a vessel of his Light, a light against the darkness. As your pastor I have witnessed many of you be that vessel of Light to others in many, many ways. In my tenure here I have a library of stories of how you have truly been a much needed light in many people’s lives. I look forward to continuing to shine his Light with you as we enter the season of Advent. I join with you in lighting the way to celebrating once more one of the greatest events in the history of Creation, God entering the world to save us all. I pray that as we encounter many more opportunities for us to be a light in the darkness of someone’s life that God, with the help and guidance of Christ, will use us once more to change their lives forever, As we once more celebrate the birth of the true Star of Bethlehem, my prayer for you my friends, is that God will bless you and keep as his face shines upon you! Amen.
Greetings from Butler United and Pastor Kevin Marsh. My wife, Susan, and I want to welcome you to Butler United's web site. We hope that you find what you need to get to know who we are and all that we have to offer if you come to visit us. We hope that you will because we are sure that you will be blessed because you did.
We believe that God loves everyone and that he has a perfect plan for each and every one of us. His greatest blessings come through a personal relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ. The people of Butler United are striving to reach out and truly make a difference in the lives of the people in our community. We do so by sharing Christ's unconditional love and helping out whenever and however we can. Our main ministry is a food pantry that serves the Eastern Dekalb School District.
We believe that everyone who comes here, no matter who you are or where you are from, can find a connection here in some way. We hope that you will come and find out for yourselves. We look forward to seeing you soon. Shalom!