04 Lent 03 Fourth Sunday in Lent
My friends, I greet you today in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, our lesson comes to us from the fifth chapter of Ephesians beginning with the 8th verse. Now in the Lord, you are light, so live as people of the light.
What is it about light that makes it powerful? What is it about light that draws us to it? What is it about light that gives us a sense of comfort and hope? We talk about the light at the end of the tunnel. We leave on night lights for our children, maybe even for ourselves. And we do this, because there is just something about light that makes us feel better.
When I was younger, my bedroom door was right in front of the hallway light. And because of where my bed was in my room, the hall light shone right in my face. At that point I was too scared to try to sleep with my door closed. That was too much darkness. But there was enough light, from enough other rooms in the house that turning off the hall light would allow me to sleep, while still having a comfortable amount of light dancing around. So I got up, and turned off the hall light.
Well this lasted all of half a second and then my sister began to scream, and one of my parents yelled up, “Turn that light back on.” My plot had been foiled. So I decided to go in and reason with my little sister. You would have thought that I would learned by then that reasoning with her was impossible, but I decided to give it a try anyway.
So I walked into her room and said, “Melissa, why do you have to have the hall light on?” She said, “Because I’m scared of the monsters.” I said, “But Melissa, look at your room. You have toys everywhere. It is like a minefield in here. If you turn the light off, the monsters won’t be able to see where they are going, and they will most likely fall and break their neck. However, if you leave the light on, it will be much easier for them to see where they are going and they will have a safer trip getting to you.”
That was the first night that I slept with my door closed. The light made me uncomfortable. I wanted it on my terms, and not so much of the in my face, that it was. After all, it made it very difficult to sleep. It is easy to read today’s lesson and have a similar reaction. There is something about hearing these words about light that can leave us feeling uncomfortable. Let’s face it, we all have things that we do not want other people to know about. We all have struggles with sin that we do not want to be out in the open.
Whether that struggle be with some kind of an addiction, or a poor use of resources, perhaps there are relationships that are being neglected, and tis the season for tax fraud. And while our fear is exposure, the light that shines, the light that shows these things to be what they truly are in our lives, well that light is a gracious and merciful light. That is the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Those are the words that John uses to describe Jesus in the opening words of his Gospel.
Charlie Hall has an amazing song that captures this. “Into marvelous light I’m running. Out of darkness out of shame. By the cross you are the truth, you are the life you are the way.” Jesus, who paid the price for all our sins, for all those deeds committed in darkness. Jesus, who paid this price with his life, death and resurrection, enables us to live in the light. So we find both the strength to fight the sin and temptation that we face from the deeds of darkness. And we find the warmth and joy, life and forgiveness that comes from God’s gracious light.
Now it is important here that those in the light do not live in that light in such a way that they pass judgment on and condemn those who are not in the light. It is true we are told not to associate with them, but that means not to do the things that they do, in the ways that they do them. We are never to be in a position where we pull out of the world, and hide ourselves away from the world. Because we are to let our light so shine before others, that they see our good deeds and give glory to our Father in heaven. After all, who turns on a lamp and then covers it up.
How we live in this light and interact with others who are not in the light is of the utmost importance. This is our witness that we are to give. And it is really difficult to give a witness when you are constantly condemning people and judging them. This is not to say that there is no such thing as absolute truth, or right and wrong. Such things do exist. This does not mean that you can’t call a sin a sin. Because you certainly can. But what it does mean is that you cannot treat the person any different. For we are all sinners, we are all in need of the same grace and mercy and forgiveness from our God, not one of us is better than the other. And as people see what we have, and how we live our lives, they will want what we have. They will want to know the peace and forgiveness that we know. And they can be lead to repentance and to know what that relationship with our God is like.
The point is that the light is not a bad thing. And living as children of the light is not a bad thing either. In fact it is a good and gracious thing. Life is just better in the light. There is no need for the hiding, the faking the pretending to be something we are not, the acting like we have it all together and know all the answers, because in the light is grace. In the light is a community of faith, a family of believers, fellow sisters and brothers in Christ who live and serve and work together. We bear one another’s burdens. We help, support, and care for each other. And in when we live in this way we are living as children of the light, and the light is attractive to others. They see the peace and hope and purpose that we have, and they want those things in their lives.
And light can be really attractive, and very powerful. There was a guy one night who was crawling on his hands and knees around a light post. He made lap after lap after lap. A buddy of his walked up to him and said, “What ya doing?” “Looking for my keys.” ‘Would you like some help?” Sure. So now both of them were crawling. Another friend comes up to them and has the same conversation. He ends up crawling right there with them. A third friend comes along and sees these tree crawling around this light post on their hands and knees. When they informed him that they were looking for the keys he asked, “Well where did you lose them?” The first guy replied, “I lost down the street there.” “Well why are you looking for your keys here?” “Because this is where the light is.
Living in the light is powerful. It is light that has found you and me who were stuck in the darkness of our sins, and graciously forgave , removed, and washed those sins away. It is light that binds us together and invites us to live lives that proclaim that light and share it with others. It invites us to live graciously with one another and to share that grace with the world around us.
This light is light that is seen and shines through acts of love and service. It is light that is found as we forgive those who sin against us. IT is light that shines as we tell others about God’s love in Jesus Christ. It is light that glows as we care for our neighbors and help them out where it is needed. It is light that shines brightly as a group of high school students give up food for 30 hours so that they can raise money for others to eat.
For once you were darkness, but now, in the Lord you are light. Live as children of the light. Now and always. Amen.