The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Focused on the Light

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

Several years ago I received a telescope for Christmas. I haven’t had the chance to use it much, although I’m still intrigued by the skies and the wonders they contain.

The first time I used the telescope, I was excited to see what I could in the evening sky. I directed it skyward and moved it around, looking for stars to observe. Suddenly I saw some. They were bright. I was so excited and proud of myself. I wanted to remember exactly which stars I’d observed, so I pulled my eye away to look up at the sky.

What could it be: The Big Dipper? Orion? No, it was just the white lights my husband, Brian, had strung on one of the trees in our yard. So much for becoming a great astronomer. So much for being focused—at least on something worthwhile.

How easy it is to be searching for something good and worth focusing on—only to find oneself distracted by something that glitters and shines but is essentially empty and meaningless.

It’s easy to lose our focus on the things that really matter. All too often the blessings God gives us—our families, friends, home, grace, love, forgiveness—can become lost in the shadow of something that blinds and dazzles us with its light and allure. We can be so quickly drawn away from the things that matter. We can quickly be drawn away from the one, true Light.

In the season of Epiphany, our attention is drawn to Jesus, the Light of the world. The weekly lessons, with their stories of kings and gifts, baptisms and miracles call for our attention. Our eyes are drawn to God’s most radiant Light. This Light is to be our focus. This Light is to illumine every aspect of our lives.

During these weeks of Epiphany, allow the Light to be your focus. Allow the Light of Christ to be your beacon, shining in every facet of your life and giving you direction and purpose.

Other lights may dazzle. But only the one, true Light will endure. Only the Son of God can bring light to our souls.

This week's front page features:

Yes, some ELCA congregations are growing: Strong identity, leadership and 'the Holy Spirit does wondrous things.' (Photo at right.)

Lifelong builder: Retiree brings energy to work for others.

'We're your daughters': Lutherans discuss commercial sexual exploitation.

The way we were: 1961. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses Luther League.

Also: Adding up good, bad.

Also: Baptism.

Also: "I never want to see you in my church again."

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about missing singing in harmony.

Cindy Novak (right) asks: "Who really cares?"

Julie Sevig blogs about CEO exit packages.

Sonia Solomonson writes about her New Year's ritual.

Check out our blog > > >

Pastor's spouses — last chance:

For a future story in The Lutheran about the changing role of the pastor’s spouse, we are asking for responses to these questions:

• What are the expectations on the pastor’s spouse today, compared to what they were decades ago?

• What can the congregation do to support the pastor’s spouse?

Please identify yourself and your congregation and city. Also note whether you’re a pastor’s spouse, pastor or congregation member.

E-mail your responses to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org no later than Jan. 15.

Members: Respond online > > >

Discuss the January issue:

Have you received your January issue of The Lutheran? What did you think? Would you recommend it to others? What did we do that you appreciated — or didn't appreciate? What did we do right? What could we improve?

Tell us in our discussion forums > > >

Subscribe to The Lutheran magazine:

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For only $15.95 you'll receive 12 issues of The Lutheran magazine in your mailbox. You'll also receive access to back issues' articles since 1996 and unlimited study guide downloads (regularly $3.50 each) at www.thelutheran.org.

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