You Are the Light!
Throughout scripture we are presented with the dual images of darkness and light. The first such glimpse is in Genesis with the creation story. Many of the Psalms talk about darkness and light. In Psalm 23 which we read today we talk about travelling through the darkest valley. Still other Psalms directly contrast darkness and light. In Psalm 18 we read “You O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” The prophet’s talk about light, we read about light in the gospels. Jesus refers to himself as the light of the world.
Images of darkness and light are all around us. Take even a cursory look at literature, music and movies. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is at its heart a story about the forces of good battling against the forces of evil. The Star Wars films are also saturated by images of darkness and light. The bad guys use the ‘Dark Side of the Force’.
You Are the Light! – Audio Sermon
In the Christian year we also have themes of darkness and light. Christmas is a season of light and expectation, followed by Epiphany the season of light. However, after this we enter Lent. Lent is a time of preparation a time when we reflect and get ready for Good Friday. Lent is a season that as we travel through it with Jesus gets darker.
In our reading this morning from Ephesians the images of darkness and light are mentioned in almost each of the verses in this passage of scripture. What is most interesting is how darkness and light are used. Our passage begins by informing us that we were once darkness. Not that we dwelt in darkness or travelled through darkness, but that we were the darkness. We were the darkness.
Think about the implications of that for a moment. We were the darkness.
If Lent is a season of preparation just what is this passage preparing us for?
We were the darkness.
Now fortunately in the same breath that we are told we were the darkness we are told that now that we are with the Lord we are the light. This is good news. In this one sentence we have the promise of Easter delivered to us. In Lent we journey in darkness with Christ until darkness seemingly overcame him and he died, only to rise again on Easter and to bring the promise of light with him. Good news indeed, but we need to heed the very personal nature of this passage. Because just as we were the darkness, we are now also the light.
The passage does not say God’s light goes with us. It does not say that God will light our way. It says we are the light. This is followed up with a command: Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. On the one hand we are told that we are the light and on the other we are given a command related to that, live like a child of the light. It is not enough to simply be the light, but to live it out.
We are to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. We have plenty of examples of what this might be. Perhaps we should follow the 10 Commandments. Perhaps we should follow in the teachings of Jesus. All good things. The question begins how do we use Christ as the model for our life of faith? How do we make the distinction from being moralistic: obedient to rules, laws and regulations to being moral, which is to bring rules and regulations together in the dynamics of our everyday relationships? How as a community of faith do we reflect morally on the world that we live in and what do we have to say about such a world?
I think we could agree on what these things are rather easily, where it gets more difficult is on agreeing about what to do about these things. It is the second part of this dynamic that is difficult.
We are also told not to take part in the works of darkness, but to expose such things. All things exposed by the light become visible.
So if we know what is pleasing to God, the question that follows what things that hide in the darkness need to be exposed? I am sure that the list could be exhausting and regrettably limitless.
What needs to be exposed?
Now friends, I am not talking about the skeletons in anyone’s closet. We all have them. The things we are not proud of, that cause us shame, that we are afraid of, memories that haunt us. At the end of the day most of us live good lives, we live as children of the light.
What I want to challenge us to do this morning is to think in broader strokes about bigger global pictures and to figure out where we fit into the picture.
Has anyone been paying attention to the missing plane from Malaysia? Flight MH370 went missing from radar on March 8 and no one knows what happened to it. I will confess that this story grabbed my interest, perhaps because it seems to have been taken right from a political thriller novel or movie. The lack of concrete information about the missing plane has led to all sorts of bizarre conjectures and theories: from hijacking, pilot suicide or some other bizarre theory. The reality is no one knows, but that type of answer does not satisfy a 24/7 news culture that sells more sensationalism than it does news. Truth is we may never know what happened to that plane and the people on board and that is unfortunate. However, has the way the news media been portraying such an event been a fair representation of global events?
While Flight MH370 has been missing Crimea voted to leave the Ukraine and was very quickly absorbed into Russia sparking fears of war or prolonged conflict.
While Flight MH370 has been missing a civil war has been raging in Syria, for three years now. Countless children have died. A refugee camp of 40,000 people is being cut off from aid supplies and the people there are slowly dying of starvation. But if you want to learn about the situation in Syria, you need to find it yourself because it is no longer considered newsworthy.
There are countless other examples of equally grave situations that we simply never hear about. Yet as children of the light, children who are the light we are called to expose the darkness. We are called to make it visible and to work to ensure that it does not happen again. That is part of what we are called to do as children of the light, as people who profess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
There are other examples to think about. This June we will mark 100 years since the start of the Great War, next week we will mark 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda. The Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago this November and recent events are all too reminiscent of the time before the wall.
Friends we are told we are the light; we are called to expose the darkness.
Our gospel lesson this morning is about the restoration of sight. About a man blind from birth who regains his sight, his ability to see. Our reading from Ephesians is about exposing the darkness to the light, to make things visible.
Friends, do we walk about in a society, in a world that is blind? Bling to the suffering, war, pain, and hunger that exists in it?
Friends, what type of miracle is required to bring sight to such a world? To make plain the grave injustice that occurs on a daily basis, which occurs because we turn a blind eye to the plight of others. Are we also blind or do we wish to act as children of the light and expose the darkness?
Friends we follow a God who makes things possible. We follow a God who is good, who wants justice. We walk today with Jesus towards Jerusalem, we walk towards the cross. And it is a dark road, make no mistake. It is full of temptation and darkness. It is also full of opportunity to reflect on our walk with Christ, about our opportunity to be the light because we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
Exposing darkness is risky. There are people who do not want the darkness exposed, but we are called to do no less.
The passage from Ephesians this morning ends with these words, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
These words have the ring of Easter in them, Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead!
It is believed that these words are taken from a hymn that would have been used during baptism. In baptism we are made new in Christ. In baptism the old life is gone and we find new life in Christ. New lift as children who are light.
Friends, wherever you go let your light be seen. The light that is in you that is Jesus Christ. Stand up to the darkness, be the good fruit, let your light shine.
Trust in God. Follow the example of Christ. Be empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. Amen.
Text: Ephesians 5: 8-14