The days are awfully short in Saskatoon right now. I make my way to my office or to a distant Sunday service in the dark, and at the end of the day I make my way home in the dark. The extra lamp beside my desk is lit most days. When I return from an evening parish visit, the only light is from my headlights and, if I’m lucky, the reflected moonlight on snowy fields. The glow of holiday decorations and the glitter of New Year’s Eve hold back darkness for a while, but still, January has set in, with its 31 long nights of cold, black skies. In the north, we know darkness, especially in the depths of January.
But all is not bleak. The warm glow from the Christmas manger takes on brighter light as the Holy Family makes its way to Egypt to be visited by foreign kings. The light grows stronger as Jesus grows in stature and in years and as his mother ponders God’s strange and marvellous doings in her heart. The years fly and the young man Jesus comes to be known for his miracles and teachings, illuminating the mystery of God for all who have ears and eyes to hear and see.
Epiphany is a wonderful season for the northern church, a season of hope as the Word of God goes forth into the world through Jesus of Galilee and through the light-bearers and messengers who continue in his Word. Living in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, we “get” the image of light as revelation of God to the world. God knows that in the north we need the light.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the man who stood under a streetlight, head down, scratching in the snow with his boot. “What are you looking for?” a passing friend asks.
“I’m looking for a few coins I dropped,” says the man.
The friend starts scratching the snow in the same pool of light from the streetlight. “I’m looking, but I don’t see any coins,” says the friend. “Are you sure you dropped them here?”
“As a matter of fact, I dropped them on the other side of the street,” replies the man, “but the light here is better for looking.”
The good news of the gospel is that the light of Christ shines everywhere. It shines with truth and grace on every street and in every home, over every town and city. Where the gospel is proclaimed in truth, God is there, pushing back the darkness and revealing grace, justice and hope.
BISHOP CINDY HALMARSON serves the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). The Anglican Church of Canada and ELCIC have been in full communion since 2001.