Rev. Barbara Kershner is an Andover Newton alumna and retired pastor living in the Berkshires.
Reference hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus
Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight
And all the twinkling, starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
than all the angels heaven can boast.
Reflection: Jesus Shines Brighter
Mt. Greylock in the northwest corner of Massachusetts is the highest point in our Southern New England Conference. On its summit stands the Veterans’ War Memorial Tower whose beacon with 12 banks of lights emits 1.9 million lumens. Under the right weather conditions, it is visible from 75 miles away.
Jesus shines brighter !
We close the season of Epiphany on Feb. 23, with the story of the transfiguration, when Jesus shines like the sun. With his star pupils, Peter, James and John at the top of a mountain, Jesus reveals himself dazzling with the light of hope and glory. It is a strange tale that invites us simply to gaze at the Mystery of the One who is the Light of the world.
Human beings need light in order to see and to remain healthy in body, mind and spirit. The cold and dark of winter can be very depressing and discouraging for people. Doctors diagnose a medical condition known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder which occurs most often in the fall and winter months, times of low light and short days. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy which may come by spending more time outdoors, or by using artificial, full spectrum light sources that mimic natural sunlight.
Jesus shines purer !
Every major world religion speaks a language of light or incorporates light in worship practices. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate the festival of Diwali by lighting lanterns and small earthen lamps to awaken a person’s awareness of God and acknowledge the triumph of good over evil. Muslims speak of Allah as the source of light. The Koran says: "Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His light.” Buddhists seeks enlightenment to break free of the cycle of life and death. When making an offering of a lit candle before the Buddha this prayer is said:
“With lights brightly shining abolishing this gloom
I adore the Enlightened One, the Light of the three worlds.”
As Christians, we point to Jesus Christ as the light of the world. The light of Christ reveals the nature of God. The faithful Christian reflects the light of the Divine. On the mountain, that dazzling moment of transfiguration would fade away, but the disciples were told to listen to Jesus. They left that place, came back down the mountain, and their perspective was changed as they walked with Jesus into the world.
It is winter, but Jesus is shining regardless of weather conditions. We rejoice in the light that is offered to us. “It is the Holy One who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness.’ It is God who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4: 6) May we walk by that light.
Holy One, let your light shine upon this world, illuminating the darkness, the chaos, revealing our flaws so that we might see our need for change and healing. Shine your light to warm our hearts toward one another. Shine so that we may reflect your light and follow in your steps.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com.
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the family of The Rev. Ms. Betty Ann Lehmann, a retired UCC pastor and former pastor of the Federated Church of Hyannis, MA. Rev. Lehmann died on Dec. 9.
- For those grieving or suffering after a shooting at a night club in Hartford left 1 dead and 4 injured on Sunday
- The people of western England after Storm Dennis, a super strong non-tropical storm, has caused widespread flooding
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For those who have served our nation as President of the United States
Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:
First Church of Christ Congregational in West Hartford, West Hartford, CT
Manantial de Gracia, West Hartford, CT
The Flagg Road United Church of Christ, West Hartford, CT
Christian Union Church, West Groton, MA
West Dennis Community Church, West Dennis, MA
First Congregational Church of West Brookfield, West Brookfield, MA
The First Church, West Bridgewater, MA
First Congregational Church of West Boylston, West Boylston, MA
Second Congregational Church of Boxford (UCC), West Boxford, MA
West Parish of Barnstable, West Barnstable, MA
First Church in Wenham, Congregational, UCC, Wenham, MA
This Week in History:
February 21, 1965 (55 years ago) Malcolm X, African American nationalist and religious leader, is assassinated while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. In contrast with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X advocated self-defense and the liberation of African Americans “by any means necessary.”
“Study the past if you would define the future.”