Summary: A sermon about darkness and light.
"The Gift of Light"
John 1:1-5, 10-14
What is darkness?
The Bible talks about darkness quite a bit.
Let's look at a few examples.
Proverbs 4:19 says: "The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble."
In Ephesians 4:11 we are warned: "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness..."
And way back in Genesis Chapter 1, we are told that "the earth was formless and empty, [and that] darkness was over the surface of the deep..."
And then, of course, God spoke His Word saying: "Let there be light, and there was light.
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness."
In the passage Brenda read earlier the prophet Isaiah says a day will come when, "The people walking in darkness" will see "a great light."
In Matthew Chapter 4 we are told that Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.
And in the Scripture we just read from John Chapter 1 we are told that "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn't extinguish the light."
It's been said that "In this one verse, a universe of meaning is contained."
And one of the things we must come to grips with is "there is darkness."
I was having a conversation with someone a couple days ago.
She was telling me about her childhood.
She said that as a child, her mother was an alcoholic and didn't take her to church.
She spent most of her teen years going to heavy metal concerts, fooling around with boys, drinking and taking drugs.
She said that she thought that "everyone lived like that."
She said that she didn't know there was any other way.
Sometime in the late 1980's she went to some huge Christian Rock concert.
She said that she looked around and wondered to herself, "Where in the world did all these people come from?"
And one day, she remembers standing in her driveway as God spoke to her soul.
He told her that there was another way to live, and that He had great plans for her life if she would only follow Him.
That woman is the secretary of our Chattanooga District of the United Methodist Church.
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.
On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned...
...A child is born to us, a son is given to us...
...He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...
...Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being.
What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness..."
There is darkness.
Sometimes, in the Bible, the word darkness just means it's nighttime.
But more often, darkness represents the evil which has crept into God's world, polluting the goodness, the order and the purpose.
And we see the darkness used this way throughout John's Gospel.
In John Chapter 3 Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night--the darkness that represents doubt and fear struggling to find faith.
Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus leads Jesus to say: "the light has come into the world, and the people loved darkness rather than light."
The blind man in John Chapter 9 becomes the symbol for the spiritual blindness of Jesus' enemies.
Even though they could see physically, they still walked in darkness.
When Judas goes out to betray Jesus, John summarizes the evil about to be unleashed with the simple statement, "And it was night."
And today, we see the truth that there is much darkness in our world.
We know of ways that evil corrupts what should be good.
We see the darkness which has crept into creation in things that happen naturally.
Tsunamis kill thousands.
Millions die from drought and famine.
Tiny babies battle cancer.
Alzheimer's eats away at a person's mind.
Surely, these things are part of the darkness.
They are not part of the order and goodness God intended.
We can't help but see the darkness in society and politics.
We see it when businesses get rich from ripping off the poor.
We see it in the drug war which is fueled by human weakness and spread by the callous indifference to human life.
The darkness becomes nearly pitch black when we talk about child sex trafficking, terrorism, and genocides.
How can people, created by God, loved by God, become so full of hatred and violence?
There is darkness.
And there is darkness inside of each one of us.
More than one person has noted that our culture wants to live, not only in the denial of death, but also in the denial of darkness.