Ask around for novelty light-up clothing. Christmas hats or jumpers, ties, shoes, maybe even a light-up bow tie!
Find a willing victi … volunteer and dress them in all the light up items, but keep them switched off. Now make the room as dark as you can – turn off the lights and close any curtains. Note how dark it is, and hard to do anything.
Read verse 8a: ‘For once you were darkness’, then turn all on all the light-up clothing as you read 8b: ‘but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.’ Have the light person walk around church, being light.
As Christians, we are not just in the light, we are the light.
A lot of young children have light-up shoes these days. I’m quite jealous. I want some, but they don’t make them in my size. 😦 However, I do have a light up Christmas Tree hat, which I wear to the great embarrassment of my teenaged children. (Why else have children, if not to embarrass them?)
Our passage today talks about light, but not in the way I expected when I first read it. We often think about faith as being ‘in the light’ and opposed to being ‘in the darkness’. The Bible is full of this imagery: ‘A people walking in darkness have seen a great light’ and all that. But this passage is different. Look at verse 8. It does not say ‘once you were in darkness’, it says ‘once you were darkness’. And not now ‘you are in the light’, but now ‘you are light’. That’s a very different thing.
It’s like the difference between the sun and the moon. We see both in the sky and we talk about sun light and moon light, but those are very different things. The moon is made of rock and does not produce any light of its own, it just reflects light from the sun. The sun, like all the other stars, is a burning ball of gas, and gives out light and heat from the nuclear reactions at its heart. When we look up and see the moon, the moon is in the light, whereas the sun actually is light. The moon is a dead lump of rock whereas the sun is active and gives light and life to all.
This Bible passage tells us that, as well as being in God’s light, reflecting his radiant warmth and life to all, we also are light, because of what God has done for us and in us.
In this season of Lent, we have been thinking a lot about how God deals with the sin in our lives. It is right and good that we take sin seriously – we do not peddle a gospel of cheap grace, forgiveness without repentance – but once assured of God’s forgiveness we can look up and see the riches of new life. We are pardoned, we are justified, we are reconciled and so we can live in joyful response to our new status as daughters and sons of the living God. In the Lord, we are light. Let us live as children of light.
Picture the earth, with the sun and the moon.
- Imagine first you are the moon, cold and lifeless. It is in the light, but doing nothing with it.
- Next imagine you are the earth, again receiving the sun’s light but now filled with abundant life that is fuelled by the sun.
- Now imagine you are the sun itself, with light and life pouring out to all around.
God calls us to be light.
Ephesians 5:8-14 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo: ‘Shining 4’ by Eduard Zhikharev