12/18/11, Passing on the Light

DECEMBER 18, 2011 Participatory Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

(The short homily at the end of this script was a summary statement and challenge for the conclusion of this community reflection.  Please consider this liturgy by Wellspring before reading the homily.)

 

PASSING ON THE LIGHT

 

 


 

 

 

 

Reader 1

In the beginning, the universe was dark and cold –
and the Spirit hovered and brooded
and whispered
"Let there be life!

Reader 2

In the beginning God said
"Let there be light"

Reader 3

In the beginning the Word was spoken
and light and life came into being!

(large candle is lit)

Reader 4

In the beginning God looked at all that had been made
and saw that it was very good.

Reader 1

In the beginning…(getting softer)

Reader 2

In the beginning…

Reader 3

In the beginning….

Reader 4

In the beginning…

Reader 1

Soon after the beginning –
God handed the light to human beings -
to Adam and to Eve(God lights the candle held by A & E)

Reader 2

And they handed the light on to their children
to Cain who turned from the light – (Cain receives light but blows it out)
and to Abel who lived and died in the light (Abel receives light)
and to all their children (one more person!)

Reader 3

And their children handed the light on to their children –
to Noah who lived when the world was turning dark (Noah receives light)
The world was in grey with cloud and flood water –
but God set a rainbow in the sky
to remind them of the light.   (lights continue to be lit over the course of reading.)

Reader 4

And Noah handed the light on to his children

Reader 1

And they handed it on to their children

Reader 2

who handed it on to their children

Reader 3

who handed it on to their children …

Reader 4

Until one night, God spoke to a man in the dark of the desert,
"Look at the stars – look at the stars.
Look at the stars Abram.
Take the light to a new homeland –
Take the light – and take a new name
You shall be Abraham and your wife shall be Sarah"

Reader 1

Abraham took the light and gave it to Isaac

Reader 2

Who gave it to Jacob

Reader 3

Who gave it to Joseph

Reader 4

Who gave it to the Hebrews who lived in Egypt

Reader 1

But Egypt became a dark place for God’s people –
and God spoke to another man in the desert.
The light became a burning bush
and Moses approached and heard God’s voice

Reader 2

"Take this light to my people –
Go – tell Pharaoh: Let God’s people go!"

Reader 3

So Moses took the light to God’s people
and led them into the desert –
where they wandered for forty years until God led them to the Promised Land

Reader 4

And the light passed to Joshua –
to Deborah –
to Gideon –
and on and on until it passed to Samson
who was blinded –
but still trusted the light.

Reader 2

And the light passed to Hannah –
who gave it to Samuel
who saw the light in David and named him king

Reader 3

And David passed the light to Solomon and Solomon passed the light on to generations of kings (A reading from Psalms)

Reader 4

But the Kingdom began to grow dark –
so God handed the light to the prophets:
to Elijah and Elisha
to Jeremiah and to Micah
to Hosea and to Amos

Reader 1

The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light
On those who lived in shadows – on them God’s light has shone.

Reader 2

And the light burnt in the darkness of Exile
in the hope of rebuilding:
through invasion and suffering
the light did not go out.

Scripture Reading - A reading from the Prophets could be inserted here. 

Reader 3

Then an angel appeared to Mary
and passed a new light to her…
Creation held its breath

 

Scripture reading - A Gospel reading could be inserted here.   (Luke 1:26-38)

Reader 4

And an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph
and passed a new light to him...
Creation held its breath…

Reader 1

And in the dark of a stable in the town of Bethlehem
a new light was given to the world:
the one who was there in the beginning came into the world
in him was life – and the life was the light of peoples.
The Word became flesh and lived among us.

Reader 2

The light shone in the darkness

Reader 3

And the darkness did not overcome it

Reader 4

For the Light and Life of the world was destined to enter the darkest of darkness –
and it seemed –
for a while –
as if the darkness had won…

Reader 2

The Light of the World returned to the Father

Reader 3

But passed the light on to his disciples –
to Peter – to Mary –
to the Twelve –

Reader 4

And to the Three Thousand –
who saw the light of the Spirit’s new coming and believed.

Reader 1

And the light appeared to Saul
and Saul became Paul
and took the light to the nations –
to Rome   (A reading from the Epistles is inserted)

Reader 2

And some took the light into desert places

Reader 3

And some to the east

Reader 4

And some to the south

Reader 1

And some to the north

Reader 2

The light dwelt with Benedict and Scholastica

Reader 3

The light went with Patrick – to Ireland –

Reader 4

and was passed to all the Celtic peoples

Reader 1

And the light lived in the darkness of the fall of Rome –
It passed to Gregory – to Augustine –
and small lights shone in the darkness of the Dark Ages

Reader 2

The light passed on to Hildegard – to Dominic –to Thomas –to Eckhart

Reader 3

To Francis and to Clare
whose lives glowed with the power of simplicity

Reader 4

To Ignatius – to Teresa
who found God in the power of imagination

Reader 1

But the light became divided
and humans tried to possess it:
to claim it as their own

Reader 2

Yet the light was not defeated:

Reader 3

The light passed to those who loved God’s Word –
who translated it – and placed it into the hands of believers

Reader 4

The light passed to those who sought to understand God’s creation –
and explored its wonders.

Reader 1

The light passed to those who saw the dignity of human beings
and fought to bring justice to the poor –
freedom to those who were slaves.

Reader 2

The light travelled to new continents –
and passed to new peoples .

Reader 3

The light passed to Bernadette and Therese and to Charles de Foucauld

Reader 4

to Dietrich Bonhoffer and to Maximillian Kolbe

Reader 1

to Martin Luther King and to Dorothy Day

Reader 2

to Brother Roger and to Mother Teresa

Reader 3

to us

Reader 4

The light waits –

Reader 1

Who will keep the light burning in our day?

Reader 2

Who will take the light into the world?

Reader 3

Who will carry the light into a new year –

Reader 4

a renewed Creation?

Readers

    Who will carry the light – if we do not?

 

© 2005 Wellspring



Into the dark space of nothingness, the creative voice of God spoke, saying “Let there be light.”  This spark of light brought into being all that is, all that has unfolded over 14 billion years of time.  Ever since that moment of spark, light has sustained all that is with energy and heat and illumination.  Light keeps the universe and all in it moving and evolving into new ways of being.  Light is such a significant force that it well deserves our attention over the weeks of Advent that Christians devote to the coming of the Light. 

Should we be at all surprised that human beings are called to carry the light onward?  The history that we have laid out before us tonight is just a small part of the story God is still writing. Yet we see in it clear evidence that there is within humanity an inner light  continually  used by God to move the story of creation and re-creation forward.  The gospel passage for this evening focuses our attention on the young woman Mary, upon whom God looks with favor.  Nothing she has done gives her a special ability for the job God assigns her.  She is chosen simply because God decided she was in the time and place and circumstance that was right. So she is commissioned to carry the light in a unique way.  Although given her understanding of the normal course of reproductive events, she does not understand how she would be able to accomplish what is spoken, she simply signals her willingness to be the bearer of light, and so it is done to her according to God’s word. 

The Spirit of God comes to each of us during the course of our lives and challenges us with opportunities to be bearers of light.  At Catholic baptisms we are given a very tangible symbol of this call.  Our parents take a candle, light it from the Easter candle, and receive in our stead the exhortation to keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts and to walk always as a child of the light. 

Is that flame of faith alive in your heart?  Are you carrying the light and warmth of it out into your daily world?  You may have no idea how your light is impacting others but that doesn’t matter.  Just like Mary, you may wonder “How can this be?” Your only response needs to be the same trust as Mary’s:  “May it be done to me according to your will.”

Lumen Christi… we as community have a unique call to let the light of Christ shine brightly and courageously into the darkness of institutional church life today.  All we have to do is carry the light of our conscience-driven convictions boldly into the actions of our lives of prayer and worship and compassionate service.  I hope that you will join me in this season of light as we renew our determination to be Lumen Christi: the light of Christ in McMinnville.

 By Sandi DeMaster