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08.16.09 Ephesians 5:8-20 Living as Children of Light Sermon Summary

by on August 17, 2009

Any time the Bible refers to light, I remember the first creation story when God’s Spirit hovers over the watery chaos. The first thing God does is call forth light, separating light from darkness, on the first day.

I also think of Advent, when in the dead of winter, with short days and long nights, we light candles to remind us of the fundamental truth of Christianity: light shines in the darkness, and darkness cannot overcome it.

The Gospel according to John says Christ is the light of world who came from God into the darkness. And the darkness cannot overcome it. Even the darkness of Jerusalem, where religious and political authorities conspired to torture and execute Jesus, could not overcome the light of the world in Christ. His resurrected light shines on to this day.

God’s light came into the darkness at creation. Jesus’ light shone in the darkness of Jerusalem. And today the Spirit illumines my darkened mind and transforms my heart of darkness. These are moments of ongoing conversion. In religious language, they are moments of enlightenment or illumination.

It seems God has a habit of entering dark places and bringing light. God entered the darkness of creation and brought forth life. Christ entered the darkness of Jerusalem and was resurrected in brilliance. The Spirit enters our darkened lives and brings guidance.

And so Ephesians urges us to live as children of light. We are children of light, because we are children of God.

The only way to get rid of darkness is to illumine with light. Remember the old Dawn dishwashing detergent ads: “Dawn breaks up grease; surrounds it. Dawn takes grease out of your way.” That’s the way it is with light and darkness. To get rid of darkness, bring in light.

For some people being a child of the light means running away from darkness. It means coming to church and securing the doors so that none of the world’s darkness can come in.

But that’s not the pattern of God, and it’s not the revelation of Christ. Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. No one lights a lamp and hides it under a bowl. Instead she puts it on a stand and it gives light to the whole room. So let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and praise God.”

I love summer because the sun comes up early and I start my day. By the time I would naturally wake up in the winter, I’ve accomplished already a half day’s work. In summer it’s obvious: the light comes to us and we begin a new day. It comes to us when we are unconscious, and wakes us up.

The Jewish way of measuring time has something to teach us. The day begins at sundown, and we lay ourselves back into God’s care. Then God’s light comes to us new every morning. New beginnings start with God and come to us long before we become aware of them.

In winter we can also get up early thanks to artificial light. There’s nothing stopping us except our preference to sleep in. We like the snooze button. Nature offers us this balance. Some days it’s good to wake up early, some days to sleep in.

Apparently in Ephesus, they were out of balance. They were sleeping in too often. Ephesians says, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead; and Christ will shine on you.” Today also, many of us prefer sleep. We are Christians in a perpetual winter. We see the darkness in our lives and the world and we just want to pull the covers over our heads and stay in bed.

But we are the light of the world, because we are children of light. The world needs us to wake up, to let Christ shine on us and through us. Our neighbors are in darkness and God has given us the light. Does your light shine, or is it under a bowl?

Late Jesuit Priest, Anthony de Mello specialized in spiritual awakening. He writes of a discussion between two monks:

Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?

As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.

Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?

To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.

Ephesians challenges us to wake up, and when we do, Christ will shine on us. When we wake up like this, it opens our eyes of faith, and as long as we keep them open and searching, we will see Christ’s light shining all through the day. With the light of God’s Spirit shining in our lives, we can live as children of light.

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