Celebrate the Light: Gulfside, January 7, 2006


“John was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.” — John 1:8

 On Jan. 7, we will bear testimony to the light of Christ shining in darkness. You are invited to gather at 1 p.m. on the site of Gulfside Assembly in Waveland. I will be present along with representative bishops from across The United Methodist Church, Gulfside leaders,  the cabinet, the Commission on Religion and Race and others who seek to honor the God who has made Gulfside holy ground. We will sing and pray, walk the grounds in silence and watchfulness, hear stories and lean forward into God’s future for Gulfside. I hope to see you there.

In the gospel of John, the miracle of the Incarnation is described as a sweeping, cosmic event. There is no mention of parents, lowly place, singing angels, surprised shepherds, dazzling star, seeking magi. Jesus is light, shining in darkness, drawing all to God.

The ground at Gulfside, now wiped bare by Hurricane Katrina, continues as a place of light, a place of warmth and welcome, a place of justice and peace, a place of holy memory and divine promise. 

Jesus appears in John’s gospel as an adult, announced boldly by John the Baptizer. This appearing is urgent and dramatic. Christ appears in strength and power, fully the Anticipated One of Advent, the Holy Infant of Christmas, the Starchild of Epiphany. We are Advent, Christmas, Epiphany people as we bear testimony to this strong Christ-light.

Jan. 7 is the first gathering of the 2006 Journey Toward the Light. The 2006 Journey will also include a day in McComb on March 14 and a day in Jackson with Tex Sample on May 13. I hope you will take a moment now to flip your calendar forward and scribble notes on these days: Jan. 7, March 14, May 13.

This is the vision: Each local church in Mississippi an intentional Light Partner, reaching out to pray, worship, study and serve together with a congregation of a different predominant race. Onward we go toward this vision, toward that new world where all people live aware of God’s radiant embrace.