Scripture Reading: Exodus 37:1-29, Jeremiah 1:11-12, Revelation 1:12-20
I lived in England for a year after college. Before I moved there, I did not fully understand that an English winter involved very little sunlight. The sun rose late and was completely gone by 4 p.m. This was incredibly disheartening for a girl raised in the sunny desert of South Texas. I remember feeling as if winter would never end.
In Exodus 37, the careful crafting of the lampstand, and the ark with its mercy seat, gave the Israelites hope for the light that was to come. Fashioned from a solid piece of gold, the stem and six branches of the lampstand held seven perpetually burning flames that not only illuminated the holy place of the tabernacle, but also flickered in anticipation of the coming light of Christ.
Darkness to light, darkness to light. This is the cycle we see in nature, and this is the cycle we see throughout the narrative of Scripture. This is why the ever-burning light from the lampstand was so critical.
For the disciples, the days after Jesus’ death must have felt like a winter that would never end. Three days of confusion and despair. Their rabbi, their friend, their Savior, had died.
Although I know the end of this story and the hope that Christ’s resurrection would bring in three days’ time, I still feel the weight of darkness on a daily basis. I still feel like this life has more winters than it does summers. For this reason, I need to remember the words that Jesus said to John in the book of Revelation:
“I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever…”
- Revelation 1:17-18
Something else I didn’t know about England was that what winter lacked in light, summer made up for tenfold. In summer, the sun rose early and didn’t fully set until 10 p.m. People stayed out later, and walked in the parks more often, their coats left hanging on their hooks. A warmth gripped the city that thawed any remnant of winter.
I wonder if this is what it felt like when the disciples saw Jesus alive. How quickly their winter must have turned to summer, their despair to hope, their sadness to joy. This is what the light of Christ did for the disciples. This is what it does for us in our daily lives, and this is what it will do when Christ comes again.
The promise Jesus gave John in Revelation also came with an instruction: “Therefore, write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this” (v. 19). Until Christ comes again, the Church has taken on the responsibility of the lampstand. We don’t sit and wait idly for Christ to return. We are the flame that continues to burn. How will we take up the charge? How will we tell others of what we have seen? How will we tell them of what is, and what is to come?