The Christmas catalogues have started dropping through the door…
It is so easy to get caught up in what we want, or think we need. To find yourself spend, spend, spending to create the “perfect” experience or locate the “perfect” gift.
But perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. Isaiah reminds us that in feeding the hungry and helping those in trouble, light will shine from the darkness, and the dark around will be as bright as noon. I can’t quite decide from the gist of reading whether the brightness comes to our world, or that of the recipient. But then I decided – both! Yes the one who’s life is helped will be brightened, but so will we. There is happiness in giving – how much more so in helping. And how much brighter the world in general if there is more giving, helping and sharing.
The brightness is not a glow of self-satisfaction or righteousness, but brightness in our own lives that comes from doing what God asks.
If we think of others and their needs before our own wants, we will end oppression and be too caught up in caring to point the finger or spread rumours. We will be too busy being angry about the things that are wrong in the world to waste that anger on trivialities.
To give is to be a builder. Houses that have been in ruins for years can be rebuilt. Places of destruction and desolation can be made new again – and we can be part of that.
That is what Jesus did. Here was a woman in need. There are so many reasons why Jesus could have done nothing. Jesus no doubt had lots to do; he was busy teaching; it was the Sabbath. This woman had been ill for 18 years, perhaps she was beyond help, it certainly wouldn’t matter if Jesus waited one more day until the Sabbath was over – after all one of Isaiah’s criteria for doing the right thing was honouring the Sabbath…
But Jesus is concerned about restoration, about bringing new life to places of devastation, he is about giving and not taking, and bringing the brightness of God’s presence to the world. He gives her freedom from her illness. He is accused of hypocrisy, but Jesus shows them how to really honour the Sabbath. He does what he can, he gives what he has to offer. He makes her life a brighter place, and he makes the world a brighter place by showing others what they can do too.
I was absolutely gobsmacked to discover that a prosthesis for a leprosy sufferer can be bought for just £10! Just £10! Why aren’t we all putting one on our Christmas lists to make someone else’s world brighter? MRDF has a selection of Extraordinary Gifts too. Just £9 can buy a goat that will provide an income for years.
Do we really need more “things”? I know I don’t!
So how about bringing brightness into the darkness. What can we do today to make the world a brighter place?