Summary: Bathed in the light of God's grace, we are freed to live and act with all of the power and ability at our disposal.
November 15, 2020
Hope Lutheran Church
Rev. Mary Erickson
Walk as Children of Light
Friends, may grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? Early birds have no trouble waking up in the morning. Night owls are groggy in the mornings but they gain energy as the day progresses. Whichever type you are, there seem to be neurological predispositions that shape our internal circadian rhythms.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul addresses a different kind of day and night distinction. He tells the Thessalonians. “But you, beloved, are not in darkness…you are children of light and children of the day.”
Paul isn’t talking about the daylight hours of our sun. This light source is heavenly in nature. This is a light no darkness can possibly overcome. The source of this light is divine. We live in the light of God.
Isaiah prophesied about this light. When Israel’s pathway was covered in gloom and despair, he proclaimed the new day before them:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2).
St. John looked forward to that great final consummation when we shall stand before the throne of God. There, too, the darkness of night is dispelled. In his Revelation he proclaimed:
“And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.” (Revelation 22:5)
When I was a young child, I recall being afraid of the dark. After I was tucked in for the night, I was terrified of what lurked underneath my bed. I was certain there were monsters in my closet! We have a primitive response to darkness. We harbor a fear of the hidden enemy that may lurk unseen in the dark.
In that upstairs room I shared with my sister, there was one thing that eased my fears. It was the little night light my parents had placed in the hallway. It cast a small amount of light into our room, just enough light to comfort my anxieties and allow me to fall into the graceful arms of sleep.
Now as an adult, I will sometimes awaken in the middle of the night. And as I lay in my bed, it’s not the monsters in my closet that concern me. Now it’s the internal worries of my mind that I turn over and over. In the darkness, they magnify in size. Like Jacob wrestling through the night, they won’t let go of me.
But then, then comes the dawn. And in the light of day, the problems of our world don’t cast so long of a shadow. They gain proportionality. There’s something about light that allays our fears.
Christ is the light of the world; the light no darkness can overcome. This light of Christ shapes the trajectory of our days. Called into his light, we are unleashed. There’s a liberty; we’re not stumbling in the dark. We cease to be afraid of tripping and falling, or of what lurks in the darkness. In Christ’s light we’re freed to move and act with all of the power and ability at our disposal.
“But you, beloved, are not in darkness…you are children of light and children of the day.”
In our reading today from Matthew’s gospel, we hear Jesus’ parable about the three servants who are entrusted with managing their master’s assets. He divides the funds between them, “to each according to his abilities.”
Two of the servants are all in on it. They set to work investing what’s been given to them. Their efforts pay off. Each man doubles the sum he was entrusted with.
But the third servant is different. He’s rendered motionless by the terror of failure. Although he has received the least amount of all three servants, the one talent he was given was a huge amount of money. It was worth more than a common laborer would have earned over a lifetime.
Two servants were all in. They used what they’d been given. Their ventures could have soured. They could have lost some or all of what had been given to them. But nevertheless, they enthusiastically invested what they were given.
The third man was different. Fear paralyzed him. It rendered him powerless. And that fear was focused on his master. Fear dominated that relationship. The other two servants didn’t feel that way. But this man lived in fear of retaliation. If he screwed up, he believed he would suffer the consequences.
His understanding of his master was skewed. What was received by the other two servants as acknowledgement and affirmation felt like doom to him. The other two saw the confidence their master had in them. He had entrusted them with so much because he believed in them. That confidence released them into liberty. They acted from the confidence that was bestowed on them.