John 1:6-9, 19-28 Aware: Being Aware - Awareness
Have you ever woken up and not aware of where you were? It happened to me again during the week. I was woken up from a deep sleep, it was very dark, and I was totally confused where I was. I heard a bang on the door of the bedroom, then it opened, and someone was in the room. I said, “Who is that?” I thought I was in the house here at Clemton Park, I thought the cats were pushing the door to get in, then I thought the person in the room was my daughter, and that she had come in to restart the internet. But I wasn’t there at all, I was at home in Bulli and it was Julie coming to bed. Because it was dark in the bedroom it took me awhile to become aware of where I was. If the light had been on, I would have been aware much quicker, perhaps instantly aware.
In this Advent series titled ‘Awake, alert, aware, alive’ this week we look at being aware or awareness. The reading today refers to the light. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light (John 1:6-8). John the Baptist was not the light but he pointed to the light – to the True light, which enlightens everyone, coming into the world.
Last Thursday, the Jewish festival of Hanukkah began. It is also known as the festival of lights. The festival commemorates a time after war and the rededication of the Temple when a single candle with only enough Olive oil for one day miraculously burned for eight continuous days in the Temple. During the Hanukkah a single candle is lit each night until the eighth night when all candles are lighting. Each night as another candle is lit the light becomes brighter. Like Hanukkah Christians light candles during advent, one each week until Christmas day when the fifth and last candle, the Christ candle is lit. What do lit candles symbolise? What is light symbolic of? The advent candles remind us of the coming light, the light of lights, the Christ coming into the world whose light enlightens everyone.
In Judaism each Synagogue has a lamp known as an eternal light or sanctuary lamp reminding the people of the lamp that was constantly lit in the ancient Temple as a reminder of God’s abiding presence. Light is a symbol of God’s abiding presence. Light is also symbolic of wisdom. God’s light gives wisdom. God’s light enables us to see our way clearly. It reminds us that God’s light within us never goes out. It reminds us that there is that of God in each person, a small flicker of divine light within each human soul.
At Shabbat, at sundown each Friday evening Jewish people light two candles: the first reminds them that they are made in the image of God and to rest like God rested on the seventh day. The second candle reminds them that they are made in the image of God and that they are free. It was God who freed them from slavery in Egypt. They are reminded of God and to be like God. Genesis 1:3 - Let there be light and there was light. Proverbs 20:27 - The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord. Psalm 119:105 -Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Isaiah 2:5 - Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. Psalm 43:3 - O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me. John 8:12 – Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says, “You are the light of the earth… let your light shine before others…” As God is light, as Christ is light, be a light, be a light to the nations. Let your light shine.
As the sunlight scatters the darkness each morning and light streams in through our window panes we become aware of our surroundings. Objects that were dark masses in the night now become chairs and cupboards and tables. We become aware of our surroundings. Light brings awareness. Light brings awareness to the world in which we live. Light makes us aware of the goodness and badness in the world. As we become more aware of the world, we can become very depressed as we see the range and depth of evil, violence and suffering. But there is another kind of awareness that we need, an awareness of something greater than the darkness of this world. hope. We need the light that shines in the darkness, the light that is not overcome by darkness, the light of hope.
How do we have this awareness in the darkness? How can we be always aware of that unseen, life giving eternal presence? How can we learn to live in such a way that allows that light to shine from our hearts?
The awareness that I am talking about and seeking is awareness of the heart. It involves being aware of all that is going on around us in the world, seeing as God sees and hearing as God hears, but all the while being both present to God as well as the situation around us. Awareness means living from the heart, not from the mind. Awareness is connecting deeply with the light within. This involves finding ways to surrender all the thoughts and intentions of our minds to the attention of the heart and entrusting ourselves at a deeper level to the light within. This process involves a continual willingness to endure the uncomfortableness of silence and stillness and turning from all thoughts that arise, both good and bad, allowing them to drift on; and returning our attention again to the light within. If we are to live as Christ lived, if we are to love as Christ loved, we have to live from the heart and love from the heart; to live and love with the awareness that flows from the place that God dwells within us. We will fulfil the call of the Gospel, the good news, as our words and actions flow from this awareness. Our lights will shine.
A Prayer for Walking in Glory by Richard A. Hasler
Lord, help me to walk in the midst of your creation with eyes wide open
and give you praise for the glory that surrounds me. Amen.
Prayer: Let your light shine
Come Lord Jesus, come
and let your light shine through us
so that through our actions
we may be salt for the earth,
a light in people's sight
and that we might reach out to you
in one another,
especially those in need. Amen.
Photo: Cross Slab, Clonmacnoise, County Offaly, Republic of Ireland
Minister of Campsie Earlwood Clemton Park Uniting Church Congregation