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Stumbling Around in the Dark…

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:1-5 (NIV)

13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:13-14 (NIV)

I stumble around a lot in the dark. I got used to doing this when I was in high school and my bedroom was the only finished part of full basement beneath a big, ranch house. The switch for the lights from the steps to my bedroom were at the steps and the bedroom was back in a corner behind the steps. So, either the lights stayed on all night (not an option for my money conscious father) or I found some way to navigate to the bedroom in the dark.

Of course, a flashlight was an option, and given my love of flashlights, it’s a little surprising I didn’t use them. But I didn’t, I simply memorized the path and used what little light might come from a window or smoke alarm to guide me.

Now, when I get up in the middle of the night, I do the same thing, navigate without turning on the lights. And of course now we have so many chargers and appliances that have little LED’s there’s usually a reference point of some kind. This works pretty good until you are in a motel room with mirrored doors and you walk right into them because it is reflecting a light from somewhere else in the room!

Why don’t I simply flood the room with the light that is so readily available?

Well, when I was a teen it was a matter of convenience. Now it is not wanting to wake up the others sleeping in the room, the dog and my wife (neither one really wakes up in the best of moods—especially in the middle of the night).

So I navigate my dark, cold room using the little points of light that shine there instead of flooding the room with light.

It seems to me that I’m not the only one doing this.

It seems to me that the church – especially the American church – seems to be navigating its way through the darkness utilizing little points of light rather than flooding the world with the light of Christ. We will pick up a little bit of light in some area of social justice and follow that light for a time and then another point of light in some other area instead of flooding the world with the light of Christ. And then we wonder why the church is always stubbing its toes on one obstacle or another.

And, like me stumbling around in the bedroom, I wonder if the reason we fail to turn on the light that is easily available to us is fear of waking up and/or offending those around us? To fully shine the light of Christ might offend our neighbor or co-worker, might irritate a family member or friend, or even worse, might expose our own vulnerabilities, our nakedness or state of undress.

Or maybe, one reason we don’t shine the light of Christ more fully in the world is we can’t find the switch? Maybe we haven’t figured out where the good news of a God who loves us enough to come and live among us, to sacrifice Himself for us and to promise to stay with us no matter what can make a difference in our world.

I hope that this isn’t the case… but it sure is dark in much of our world right now.

Prayer: Lord, our toes hurt from running into walls. Maybe it’s time for us to turn on the light. Show us where the switch is. Illuminate our dark world. Let the warmth of your love drive the cold of night away. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister


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