Thursday, June 9, 2011

Joyous transparency, or: God illumines my aunt

One day at work some years ago my friend Lydia leaned over to me and whispered, “Do you know what this means?” She pointed to the motto on our corporate logo. (Our company, Oxford University Press, used the university coat of arms in its logo.)

I looked at it and read it as, DOMINUS ILLUMINA TIO MEA.

Giving it half a thought I said, “God illumines my aunt.” Lydia laughed.

Of course DOMINUS ILLUMINATIO MEA is not a fractured mixture of Latin and Spanish. It is a perfectly good Latin motto: “The Lord is my light.” The motto is drawn from Psalm 27, which begins:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear?
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?

What this psalm reminds us, truly, is that as believers in God, as Christ’s church, we are called to a joyous transparency, with light shining in and light shining forth from us.

Let the light shine in – illuminating us – and let the light shine forth from us – as a beacon proclaiming to the world God’s peaceful sovereignty.

The light of Christ – we open ourselves to it; it lightens our hearts.

The light of Christ – we open the shuttered windows of our souls and let it shine out to bring the good news of salvation to those around us.

The light of Christ – we receive it as a gift at Baptism.

The light of Christ – we celebrate it at Easter and regularly in the Holy Eucharist.

The light of Christ – we carry it with us from birth to death, through the darkest tunnels and on the brightest hillsides.

The light of Christ – which reveals God’s glory and banishes the shadows of sin.

This is the light that came into the world in the person of Jesus. This is the same light that was in the beginning (FIAT LUX) and at the fulfillment of creation.

This is the light of which Jesus spoke when he said:

“I AM the light of the world” (John 8:12) and “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

And – you do not put a lamp under a basket but put it on a lamp-stand to illuminate the whole house. You build a beacon bonfire not in a pit but on the highest hill around. You want to get the word out! You want that light to shine afar: the good news – Christ is risen! – And he is Lord indeed.

The breath of God that moved across the face of the deep on the first day still is moving, moving where it will. Through the open doors of our lives and churches a fresh breeze is blowing: it is the Spirit, enlivening us, and filling us – filling us with the light of Christ.

The light of Christ illuminates us – you and me, and, yes, my illumined aunt – and we in turn let our light shine before all people, that they too may rejoice in the power of the Spirit, and join in the work of God, Love’s redeeming work, begun in Christ and carried forth by his people.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12)

‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:14, 16)


For the Gospel Grapevine (July/August 2011), parish newsletter of St Alban’s Episcopal Church, Edmonds, Washington.


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