By Jen Gruendler
Director, The Wesley Foundation at Penn State
State College, PA
First, read John 8:12
I have lived in the northern part of the United States for most of my life. That means the season of Lent typically falls in the dog-days of winter … long dark, cold, winter days… Our bodies long for warmth and light.
Turn on any TV news station and you will be overcome with places in our country and world experiencing darkness. Unclean water for children, disease, oppression, violence, and hate filled rhetoric. Our minds long for life-giving light.
We are almost half way through the season of Lent. The wilderness of wandering, and turning, and fasting and repenting, fill our daily faith lives. Our souls long for The Light.
We have taught our children at a very early age that if a room is too dark, just turn on a light.
We light candles in our sanctuaries every week; we sing around the light of the campfire, we hold vigil as a community with the grieving and weak with small lit candles-Light brings clarity, light bring comfort, light brings strength. Light, at least for a moment, removes the darkness. Candles, flames, acolytes, torch bearers, vigils, and the other ways we bring and literally shine light have always been a part of the practice of the Christian church. These practices remind us we are people of The Light and center us on the promise that we are God’s people and in Christ there is no darkness at all.
In The Gospel of John, Jesus declares himself as the Light of the World. The Light that no darkness can overcome has come to dwell with us. The Light that promises to be present with us in any darkness is here. The Light that soaks us with unconditional love and grace has come into our hearts and lives. This same light shines through us.
One of the first “church” songs I remember learning as a very young child was “This Little Light of Mine” -- I suspect that might be true for others. My favorite verse was when you sing: “Let it shine over the whole wide world, I'm gonna let it shine. Let it shine over the whole wide world, I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” How much less darkness would there be if we let Christ’s light and love shine for the whole wide world to see? May it be so with us.
Prayer: Jesus, bring light into the dark places of our lives and world for we know there is nothing too dark for you. Shine brightly in our hearts so we may share your light with others. Amen.
1. What is your favorite light source? Why?
2. Talk about a time in your life where you experienced Jesus bringing light into darkness?
3. What situation, person, or place in your life might God be calling you to shine Jesus’ light with?