Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 3:17-4:1).

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen (Matthew 13:43).

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5).

My late sister Carol Ann was born on January 6. So Epiphany will be for some years, I expect, a bittersweet festival for me and my family.

But experiencing the day as both a celebration of the manifestation of Christ and a reminder of loss is not a bad thing. Maybe because I recall on a festival day someone I have lost, I will be more attuned to the loneliness and grief of others. Like the family in the news whose father was shot and killed in front of his children while working for the Salvation Army. Or the people here in Starkville who grieve over three women and six children lost in an apartment fire the Monday following Christmas. Or those who have no one with whom to enjoy Christmas cheer, for whom this time of year is full of depression and unwanted solitude, not the light of friendship, the glow of joy.

Looking at the world these days, it would be easy to “lose heart” as the apostle put it. For all the songs about peace on Earth, there is none. The Christmas spirit now abroad will likely be replaced by the same self-seeking that seems to rule our lives the rest of the year. Even the churches ignore the teachings of Jesus in favor of bickering over internal issues whose resolution will not lead people closer to our Lord.

So it is even more incumbent on those who want faithfully to follow Jesus to shine as he did, to display his glory in their lives. And the best way to do that is to bring the glow of hope into the lives of the despairing, to lift up with a word of comfort those who are grieving, and to shine the light of truth for those who seek meaning. Let’s start right where we are—with our own families, in our own community, in our own churches. Let the light of Jesus be a beacon through you and me that cannot be overcome.

© 2010 Tom Cheatham