Friday, December 19, 2008

"light and life to all he brings"

"in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. he was with God in the beginning. through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. in him was life, and that life was the light of all people. the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (john 1.1-5 tniv)

"when Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"
(john 8.12 tniv)

we were discussing with the girls the candlelight service that we would be attending in a few days. bill remembered a couple years ago when, in preparation for the lighting of the candles, all the lights in the big sanctuary were turned off. zoe turned to me and said in a loud whisper, "mom, it's kind of dark." the understatement of the year.

there is something so powerful about standing in a completely dark room and waiting for that moment when the match is struck and the first candle is lit. the light from the single candle is passed on until every candle is lit. soon the room is surprisingly light. what power the light has over darkness.

how appropriate that Jesus describes himself as the light. the darkness can seem so powerful, so full of bad and scary things until you turn on the light, and the darkness and all the shapes and shadows take their proper form. darkness can never overcome the light; light will always overcome the darkness.

after a particularly bad experience with onions and potatoes left forgotten in a dark cupboard, i was reminded of the significance that light has for living things. john tells us that Jesus is the source of life for all people. Jesus says that following him gives us the life-light we need to stay out of the darkness.

we picture so much of the birth story as happening at night. what a powerful picture of God's Light being born in the midst of the dark of night as the one who would forever overcome the darkness. he is the one who leads us to the forever life with no more night. when we put up our lights in celebration of christmas, what a wonderful reminder of the One who is the Light of Life.

"then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. no longer will there be any curse. the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. there will be no more night. they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." (revelation 22.1-5 tniv)

for the kids: turn off the lights and talk about the experience of being in the dark. light a match and talk about what a single match can do to the darkness. light a candle or more and talk about the significance of multiple lights. help your children to see the connection between one light that can give light to other (here the match and the candle(s)) and Jesus who is the one light that can give light and life to those who follow him. for an ornament, make a white christ candle out of felt or craft foam. if you want, you can write on there "i am the light of the world" from john 8.

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