Darkness to Light
If you had a blind friend, who was completely blind from birth, they can’t see some light, or shapes, or colors or anything, how would you explain to them what it is like to see? Could you do it? What is it like to be able to see everything around you? What is it like to just notice something out of the corner of your eye and realize it's just a little hummingbird hovering with beautiful green wings in the sun. How would you be able to describe what green is, or any of the colors are without some basic context and grounds to talk about. The darkness you would be able to describe. You could start with a shared experience that you have. That you have experienced being without any light and therefore any sight. Maybe with a blindfold or in a cave or something to that effect. You could know what it’s like to be them, even if it is for a very short time, but how in the world could you describe to them well, what it’s like to have sight. It would be a tough task that we could probably never do real justice too. This incredibly valuable gift of sight that is given to most of us.
Our lessons for today talk about light and darkness. The lesson for Isaiah talks about leading the blind on paths that they do not know and then doing something amazing for them turning darkness into light allowing them to see. Our Gospel lesson is the account of Jesus healing a blind man who was blind from birth. And our Word from God’s apostle, the Apostle Paul urges the people living in Ephesus and all Christians who would read this afterward to children of light so that people can see. There is this clear theme throughout all of these texts about letting you see and understand clearly what it means to be light.
Verse 8 says to us, “Once you were darkness but now you are light.” It’s not just that you lived in darkness. Like you lived in a real tough neighborhood but then you got out of there and have moved to a safer place. Like you were always good but it was everything else around you that was bad. No Ephesians says to us that you were the darkness. It was true to those people back in Ephesus at that time. The people that used to be unbelievers. They used to worship pagan gods. They had no idea who the one true God was. They had no idea that the only true God loved them and had sent his son to take away all of their sins. They were blind. And before they had the light of the gospel how could they even understand what it was like to see.
Maybe you have tried to do this before. Maybe you have been in a situation where someone who is blind to the Gospel message that you have, can’t even understand you. Because they are blind, they just don’t see what you see. I t has happened last year at a funeral that I was doing. I was talking to the family before the service started and we were making some small talk. This person said to me, I’m happy that they have this church for them. But it must be really hard to do a Pastor. It must be tough to have to keep visiting the sick. And to be with people as they are about to die. And then to have to do funerals and just be around all of these sad people all of the time. They didn’t get it. They didn’t have the light. Now in their defense to be at a funeral for a loved one is one of darker moments that you have to experience in your life, so I am not trying to rip on this person. But, That person didn’t understand what I do with people that are sick and dying, he hadn’t heard the service yet so he didn’t hear about the message that about to be spoken. He hadn’t heard the light. I get to go talk to people that need to hear the comfort of Jesus. I get to pray with them for strength and comfort. I get to share with them the promises that God makes to them. I get to tell them that even if their life on earth here ends they will be in heaven with their God where there is no death or crying or pain. I get to show them the light of the Gospel even when things around them seem very very dark. That’s a joy. And its something that I am sure many of you has gotten to do as well. Because you are light.
The first couple of verses that are in this text, notice what it says, once you were darkness, but now you are light. It’s not just that you were in the darkness. That darkness was all around you and it was the darkness of the world that encircled you and made it hard for you to see. No, you were part of the problem. You were the darkness. You blinded people. You led people astray. You were the blind that led the blind, even if you didn’t know that people were following you. You are a lot more influential than you probably think that you are. Your actions, whether or not you pray to your God, the word choice that you use, the way that you talk about other people, everything that you do, people notice. It’s not just about what you do. When you and I do things that are against what God wants us to do, we give the impression that's ok for other people to do too. It’s always easier to throw the second rock through the window. Its always easier to follow the guy that's going 30 over, and only going 20 over the speed limit. When we act differently that how God wants us to act, we are the darkness that blinds people from seeing God.
You were that. There are times when we are that. But the apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit says, Now, In christ You are light. The light of Christ makes you shine. All of the lights are valuable. When we use our light to lead and guide people toward Christ and away from Danger. You might be a beacon of Christianity, like a big lighthouse. That people are always looking out for in the darkest of times so that they don’t crash into something terrible in their life. Everyone might know you for your faith and rely on you to help them navigate through this life. Great! Be that light. Shine bright. Or you might just be a little light, just a dim little nightlight that’s always glowing making sure you don’t stub your toe on the corner of the bed, you are just there for people, you are praying for people, helping out with little things that might not be life or death, but still show that the light of Christ is in you. Great! Be that light.
Help people to see Christ. This past week our world has been hit with fear. No matter how serious you believe the COVID-19 virus to be. The fear is real for many. In the darkest of times, these are the opportunities for our lights to shine the brightest.
I went outside on Friday night and it seemed bright outside. Normally when I walk out of my house all I can see is the beacon of the Luxor shooting up to the sky, which is only a few miles away but it doesn’t seem to brighten up anything for me, but that night it was bright. It was because there were clouds. There was a low cloud cover that was just reflecting all of the lights of the strip and all of the houses so there was light for me. The light of Christ shines bright, but while some people are going to be homebound for a while, it might seem like that light of Christ is just a beacon that is far from them. It doesn’t need to be that way. Let’s be the light for them. Let’s be bright.
We don’t know a lot about the virus at the moment. But, I know the virus can’t be transmitted through the phone. Something you can do, call someone in our congregation and have a little chat with them, if you are trying to decide who, pick someone who is a little more aged, that might be afraid of some of these things. Just talk to them and see what they need. Let them know that you are praying for them and you are there for them. We are a community here, we are a family of believers here and that brightness can change someone's day.
We can take it a step farther too. I don’t know if you have been to a grocery store in the past week, but it is absolute madness in there. And it may be tough for several people in our congregation to just get food, or run simple errands. If you are healthy and are willing what I want you to do is write on the back of your connection this morning, I can help. Your pastors are contacting people in our congregation that might be homebound from recommendations from their doctors. If you can pick up some groceries for these people and drop them off at their house. That could make a huge impact. Letting these people know that their God and their church is there for them. If you have older neighbors, knock on their door, leave them a note, let them know you can give them a roll of precious toilet paper, or get them something while you are out. These small acts of kindness might allow you to show your faith. Be kind to people. Help people. Connect with the people around you. We are a family here, we can help take care of each other. And then with all of this. Pray. Pray for healing. Pray for help. Pray for strength. Pray for our leaders to use discernment. Pray for our medical workers to have endurance and help. Pray for our firefighters and police officers and all of those on the front lines to be strong and healthy. Pray to the God of mercy and love to help this world. He will hear us.
And as this too will pass, God willing sooner rather than later. Keep being light. And we will see.
We see that God is in control of all things. Not sickness, or war, or famine or a shortage on toilet paper or hand sanitizer, not even death can separate us from the love of Christ. We see the darkness of this world as an opportunity for us to go shine our light there and defeat whatever is in front of us. This world knows darkness. This world knows what it is like to be blind in this world. This is an opportunity in the darkness to let our lights shine bright. To show the world what the Love of Christ moves us to do. Give comfort to the scared. Give the hungry food. Give companionship to the lonely. Let them see the light of Christ. Be bright. Be light Amen.