In our Vacation Bible School this month, we were on the The Big Jungle Adventure. One of our lessons had to do with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Jesus talks about his followers as being the light of the world because of the greater truth that He (Jesus) is the Light of the world. As God’s Son who came into this dark world, Jesus makes the unprecedented claim, “I am the Light of the world ... whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Like the moon reflecting the light of the sun, so the followers of Jesus reflect His Light that shines for all the world to see. Jesus affirms our identity as light to the world and says, “Let your light so shine that others may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
In nature, we recognize that the days are getting a little shorter than they were in the earlier part of the summer. And the daylight will slowly but surely decrease until the beginning of winter in the month of December. It is within the darkness of the winter season that God shined His eternal light in the giving of His Son at Christmas, and the light of heaven shined brightly for the shepherds in the fields by night.
Parallel to this decline in natural daylight is the spiritual decline of light in our communities and relationships, where people choose darkness over light. We have seen this darkness in the tragic mass shootings in this month, as the darkness that permeates within the minds and hearts of people is manifested in dark and destructive deeds out in the greater community. The darkness of these outbursts of anger and malice are symptoms of a deeper spiritual darkness.
Laws and legislation may seem to many to be the only way to curb this darkness; but it is the light of God’s Word that is needed for individuals and families to shine and to share the love, joy and peace which God has brought for the world: “God loved the world in this way, that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3).
Not only does Jesus claim to be the light of the world but also “the Resurrection and the Life,” “the Good Shepherd,” “The Door,” “The Vine,” “the Bread of Life.” Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son, is all those things for you and for our community. When light and life are snuffed out in individuals, it is also diminished within communities. However, when the life and light of God’s Word is nurtured in individuals–men, women and children–then life and light can be celebrated in the greater community.
As you sense the days getting shorter in this season, may you turn on the light of Jesus’ words and message within your heart and mind, and be led by God’s light in all the decisions and relationships of your life. “The Lord is my Light and my Salvation” (Ps 27).
Thomas Petersen is pastor at Shepherd of the Lake in Garrison.