1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Rev. Debra Jene Collum
The Epistle writer reminds us: We are children of the light. All of us. We don’t belong to night or to darkness.
Good words for us in this darkest time of the year.
BUT the hymn puts this in perspective: I WANT to walk as a child of the light. I WANT to walk as a child of the light. I may be a child of the light but I don’t have this whole thing figured out.
I WANT to follow Jesus who is the Light of the World, but....there is an awful lot of darkness around me.
Do you see what the hymn writer is doing. She is not saying I DO walk in the light.
She is saying, I yearn for the light.
This hymn gives us hope and encouragement. We will find ourselves lost and in need of the light of God.
All that is needed is a desire and openness to want to walk in the light. To follow Jesus.
But that isn’t always a given. Sometimes we just can’t seem to turn away from the darkness no matter how hard we try.
I am sharing this morning from this little book that motivated me to do this series on Advent Hymns: Songs for the Waiting. The author Magrey Devega reminded me of a scene from one of the books that were formative in my Christian growth.
If you have teens or pre teens on your Christmas shopping list, I would suggest a set of the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. In these books, CS Lewis explores the themes of love, heroism, anti heroism and restoration in language that teenagers will appreciate, understand and I believe, will be changed by.
There is a powerful scene towards the end of the Last Battle, the concluding book of the series. The children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, arrive at the dwelling of the Narnian dwarves. They find the dwarves huddled together, in a circle, facing inward. Refusing to acknowledge or see the light and beauty that is appearing all around them.
The children are perplexed by the dwarves’ self-imposed darkness. “But it isn’t dark, you poor stupid Dwarfs.” Says Lucy. “Can’t you see? Look up! Look around! Can’t you see the sky and the trees and the flowers? Can’t you see me?”
But the children’s attempts to convince the dwarves of the light doesn’t work.
Even Aslan, the great Savior of Narnia, can’t convince the dwarves that the world is beautiful and light filled.
Aslan says with a sad assessment: They will not let us help them. Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”
This is why Advent is such a powerful time for those of us walking the Christian journey. We need to be turned toward the light. But the darkness around us can be so persuasive that we are unable to believe that there is light.
We find it almost impossible to see beauty and grace and hope. We focus only on grief, despair, hopelessness, and tragedy.
Advent calls us to acknowledge those realities but not to give them any more power than they deserve.
Advent calls us to reorient ourselves to the light. So that we can learn to follow it. So that we can WANT to follow it.
Light is such a powerful image. Particularly for those of us who are dealing with day light savings time and the winter solstice. And the dark and dreary days we have had these last weeks. I am so done with dark.
I need light.
Thankfully, I serve and am loved by a God who believes in the importance of light. Not insignificantly, God’s first creation was light. When God began to create the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form or shape. It was dark over the deep sea. God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. And God saw how good the light was.
This first primeval raw and powerful Light that began the world, is the same Light that continues to keep our earth alive and our faces turned upward for warmth and glimpses of beauty.
This light is so powerful and so amazing that it allows us to see things with a whole different perspective. Even blackness can turn to brightness in God’s creative Light.
Take for instance the indigo bunting: this brilliantly blue bird. You would think that the indigo bunting would have blue pigment in its feathers. However, like all other blue birds, Indigo Buntings lack blue pigment in their feathers. If you could see their feathers without light, you would see that they are actually black. Their jewel-like color comes from microscopic structures in the feathers that refract and reflect blue light.
There is no blue in blue jay feathers, bluebird wings, or even my nemesis bird: the blue grosbeak only the light creates the brilliant blue we love so much in our blue colored birds.
Light is a powerful thing.
I WANT to walk as a child of the light. When we say that, even in the midst of despair and grief, we are being the opposite of those ‘stupid dwarves’ we are saying that we believe there is light. There is beauty. There is hope.
We are saying that we are willing to turn from our circle of despair and be directed toward the light.
May your advent journey take you towards the light. Into the brightness of Jesus.