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Light is important in the winter time.

We might throw a log in the fireplace, follow the light of our smart phone screens, light candles, turn on all the lamps in the house to remind us that winter does not have to be bleak and cold and dark. On the rare cold days that the sun shines, we might bask in the warmth that comes in through our windows and melts the ice on the sidewalks so we can stand outside, even if just for a few moments.

That sunshine, or light that we crave, reminds us that there is hope for an early spring.

The theme of light plays an important role in Christian scripture. There are many references to light as a symbol for faith and belief in Christ and His teachings.

Epiphany, is the 12th day after Dec. 25 – the day when Jesus was born. It is also the day we celebrate as Christians when the three kings went to pay homage to the baby Jesus, by following the Eastern Star in the sky that led to the manger where Jesus and his parents were. The season of Epiphany actually begins on Jan. 6 and continues until right before the Lenten season begins on the Christian calendar.

The origin of the word Epiphany, comes from the Greek, “to show,” which reminds us of how Jesus was revealed or shown to the world through his simple birth and extraordinary life.

As we anticipate cold weather, snow, ice and bitter wind chills, we can also anticipate how Jesus can reveal himself in our hearts. Jesus’ light can help us to shine in the work we strive to do and the love we share among our family and friends. This light of Christ can also help us see the light in others and see a path toward a hopefulness and peace.

Think about how important light is to us in our daily lives – light heats our homes, allows us to work and see our way. Christ’s light is very similar, in that it can also light the way for us in this world. We are more confident when we know our way and where we are headed, just as the Three Kings were able to follow the star to a nondescript location to find a one-of-a-kind king.

Let us be confident in the knowledge that light and dark shape our human story. We cannot have darkness without light, and vice versa. At some point, the batteries get low, the candle has completely melted, the woodpile for the fireplace dwindles. Similarly, the “dark places” seem to consume us, make us anxious and take away our vision of what is right in front of us.

Sometimes, it seems as if we are sitting in the darkness for a long time, and then someone replaces the burned out lightbulb with a new one, the wood pile is replenished, the sun comes out. While the light seems to be diminished, the light can easily be accessed again if we choose to accept it.

Light gives us life. Christ’s light is like that. Christ teaches us in scripture that faith keeps the darkness at bay. Just as Christ’s light will not leave us, neither does the darkness. The good news is that Christ’s light gives us life, and in turn we can share Christ’s light with others when their light grows dim or darkness overwhelms someone close to us.

May this new year bring more light into each of our lives, and may we kindle the hope of God’s love in all whom we meet.

“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”’

“Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.” – Matthew 2:1-10

“The lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”—Psalm 27

The Rev. Rachel Schwab is the visitation pastor at First United Church of Christ in Carlisle.