Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | January 2, 2019

Keep the light burning

18b, copyright, low, blog 1-2-19          A caravan of exotic looking people, some obviously wealthy  and some dressed as servants, makes its way into poor, tiny Bethlehem.

          They are following light.    

          Nothing of great importance, these stargazers believe, would happen without a light in the sky. They’ve followed such a sign here, because the light of their own hopes and dreams compelled them.

          It’s night, and behind the servants carrying lamps the magi walk through the streets until they come to a house not unlike all the others, and knock at the door. A wary peasant picks up his own lamp, and sees this group of exotic people assembled there. Curious neighbors gather in the street. One of the visitors asks in foreign-accented Aramaic if a baby has been recently born to the family. The peasant doesn’t respond. Might they be allowed to see the child? The peasant hesitates, looks to his wife who nods tentatively, and he steps aside. The richly dressed men enter and fill this tiny home. They see the small child sitting on the mother’s lap. They present fine gifts as a result of finding, they believe, what they have sought. Those gifts comprise more wealth than these parents have ever seen. The travelers stay for a while, asking questions. When they leave, the stunned parents try to make sense of the visit.

          Probably the family will use some of these gifts to pay their way when they travel to Egypt.

          Ah, yes. The trip to Egypt.

          Like many of the gospel stories, the story of the magi isn’t just a story of light; it’s a story of light and darkness. Light really doesn’t mean anything until it’s placed in a dark space.

          We cannot avoid, with all our public discussions in this country about refugees, that Jesus and his parents were, according to Matthew, refugees in a foreign land. They traveled by night, out of fear for their child’s safety, led by moonlight and by the lamp of determination to find a peaceful place to settle. Sent out from their own home by the darkness of tragedy and danger, they made a new home among strangers who spoke an unfamiliar language and practiced religions different from their own. Perhaps this experience helped make Jesus the kind of man he grew up to be—one who welcomed the poor, those different from him, and those at the margins, because that’s what he had lived as a child.

          The magi were seekers. Looking to a light in the sky for something beyond themselves, for answers to the dilemmas of their day. Looking for light in the darkness.

          Mary and Joseph were seekers. Looking to a light in a foreign land for safety. Looking for light in the darkness.

          Jesus was a seeker. Looking for the light of God’s love and faithfulness to share with his fellow human beings. Looking for light in the darkness.

          We’re still seeking. Looking to the light of the good news for our own hearts and for the well-being of the world. Looking for light in the darkness.

          It is what all of us do during the search, on the journey, that increases or diminishes the light. We bring light whenever we make the journey easier for another, when we ease pain, relieve hunger, help to bring justice, simply share what gifts or goodness we have. That’s when we are lighting the way for someone else, and, by extension, lighting it for ourselves.

          Carry the lamp of God’s light with you as you work to make a difference in this world. It burns all year.

          There is darkness practically everywhere, but the light will never be overcome by it.

© 2019, Melissa Bane Sevier


  1. […] Melissa Bane Sevier encourages us to Keep the light burning: “We cannot avoid, with all our public discussions in this country about refugees, that Jesus […]

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