Children’s Message: So, I’ve got this flashlight, but I can’t get it to work. Can you help me? Will it turn on for you? Just push that button. Does it light up? No? I wonder what’s wrong with it.
Maybe it needs a new bulb. Is that it? Hmm…or maybe it needs a new battery. Why would it need a battery? It’s a flashlight. It’s made to shine light. What difference does a battery make?
Oh…the battery gives it the energy to shine the light. Without the battery, there is no current to move through the bulb. That’s interesting. Are there other lights in this room? Do they all have batteries? No, some of them use a current from an outlet or from a switch that connects the current behind the wall.
So, is there any light that can shine without an electric current? Fire. Candles. Right, that’s what people used as light before we figured out how to use electricity. And what’s the biggest ball of fire there is in our galaxy? The sun! Yes. We don’t even have to light it. It’s just there!
But what about at night? Does the sun get extinguished? Oh, our earth turns so that the sun shines on the other side of the earth for a while. And then it keeps turning, and we get the sun again. So, the sun doesn’t need any other source in order to shine.
That sounds a lot like Jesus. He shines because he is God—and God doesn’t need any other source to shine light into the world. God IS the light. But…if we’re children of God, then we have job to do, too. We’re called to be a light to the world. Except, like this flashlight—or like a candle—we need a source. Who do you think our source for light is? Yes, God! That’s why we light our baptism candles from the Christ candle. To remind us that our light comes from God, and we are to shine that light for all the world to see.
So, when God’s Holy Spirit fills us up, we have what we need to shine into the world. That’s pretty neat. Let’s pray.
Dear God, thank you for giving us your light. Help us shine so that others can see you. Amen.
Message: Now, you just heard me tell the kids that God is light. John’s gospel tells us that the Word that came to dwell with us was the light, and the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Light is incredibly useful, and necessary. Without it, we will die. But we have created a false dichotomy between light and dark—convincing ourselves that light is good and dark is bad.
In old westerns, the good guy always wore the white hat, and the bad guy always wore the black one. If you couldn’t tell by their actions which was which, you could at least tell by the hats they wore. In our own history, we have created a society that has ingrained in us suspicion of those with dark skin and an assumption of good for those with light skin. Even our movies cash in on the whole idea. Star Wars—come to the Dark Side, Luke. Join me and fulfill your destiny.
Our approach to arguments about morality take on a dark and light quality, as well. Many of us have been trained to see the world in ‘black and white.’ Biblical readings often do not help us break this cycle. In a few weeks, we’ll hear from Deuteronomy God’s words to the Israelites, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.” It’s an either/or kind of choice.
Except that these ideas of dark and light do not represent our reality. And they do not represent God. It is a fallacy to presume that God does not love the darkness, that God is not in the darkness, that the darkness is not called ‘good.’ Next week, during education hour, we’ll discuss in more depth these ideas around darkness and light.
Today, I want to read you a book called “God’s Holy Darkness,” by Sharei Green and Beckah Selnick and illustrated by Nikki Faison.
Wombs and tombs and dirt and sky—it all holds God’s promise of new life. It is God’s holy darkness.
Pastor Tobi White
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church