“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.” —Helen Keller
PRAYER: (From the Lectionary)
“Gracious Father, Whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that He may live in us, and we in Him, in His Name we pray, AMEN.”
SCRIPTURES: (From the Lectionary)
1 Samuel 16:1-13
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them…for it is light that makes everything visible.” (Ephesians 5:8-11 NIV)
PRAYER FOCUS: Child of Light
If you were a light, Christian, what kind of light would you be?
Would you be a flashlight, to tunnel through the darkness?
Would you be a laser, focusing all your energy on one particular spot?
Or would you be a lamp, shining light in every direction, displacing the darkness and illuminating all your surroundings?
Today’s Lectionary Scripture from Ephesians ought to be one of the first things taught to every new believer. “You used to be in darkness, but now you are light.” Paul writes that we are now “light in the Lord.” If Jesus Himself is not in us, then we are no light at all.
As we journey through this third week in Lent let us pause and ask what characteristics distinguish a Child of Light?
Children of Light are not flashlights. Flashlights are indeed useful for pointing the way ahead, but leave us, and those who would follow us, in darkness. And we should shun the deeds of darkness; we should stop doing the sinful things we used to do. That doesn’t mean we just forget about the past. Yes, we must stop doing the old things, but then we must expose them in prayer to the Light. Why? Two reasons: One, because whether or not we realize it, these things have hurt us, and God’s Light brings the inner healing we need deep in our souls; and Two, because one day this healing and these lifestyle changes will become part of our testimony, and that, in turn, will form a powerful part of our ministry to others. A flashlight beam may illuminate one area and yet leave much around it in the dark.
Second, we are not called to be lasers. While it is sometimes useful to draw that kind of coherence and focus, we cannot stop and dwell like this. We must learn perspective about our past, especially as it relates to our present and the future. If even non-Christians can look back into past hard times and see good things in retrospect, why are followers of God’s own beloved Son so stressed out when times are hard? Take a deep breath and offer a prayer of thanks for your present situation. Assure Father-God that even though you may be pressed, even though you may be shaken, you nevertheless have faith that He is in this situation as well. Give Him thanks in advance for the future moment when you will look back and remember His Divine Providence in these hard times. As Helen Keller noted, keep your face to the sunshine.
When expecting guests arriving at night, it is customary to leave a lamp on outside our doors. Around the world, that lamp serves as both a guide and a signal of welcome. The lamps in our homes illuminate entire rooms, not just spots. When we carry a lamp we can see all things around us. Children of Light are to live as lamps. In this light we can see both ourselves and our environs clearly. We can see the shadows, the dust. The sin. Our Lectionary Gospel John 9:41 tells us that the blind are not guilty of sin, but only those who can see are guilty of sin. Lamplight drives out darkness, both in ourselves and for the world we invite to bring to Our Lord. As Christ’s followers, we are lamps who shine the light into the world around us, serving to convict hearts, to signal and beckon strangers, to drive out the darkness. Christ’s lamps invite all around them to see clearly, and make their way safely home.
As this week’s Lectionary Psalm reminds us,
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. (Psalm 23 KJV)
It’s Monday Morning. This week, Christian, remember who and what you are: The dearly beloved of the King of Kings, the delight and joy of the Almighty and Everlasting One. Child of Light, you used to be in darkness, but now you are light. Shine. 🙂