A few weeks ago during one of the strong storms that passed through our area, the electricity at our house went out. Ava, Braden, and Drew scrambled to find flashlights, lanterns, torches, or anything to make a bonfire. It didn’t matter to them, they just wanted the frightening darkness to go away. Ever heroic, Cindy and I lit candles and as the warm glow filled the room, our three children rejoiced knowing the light protected them from whatever they thought lurked in the darkness. The presence of light made all the difference to them.
We all relate to the fear associated with darkness. We tremble at reports in the news of the darkness in our world. Violence, disease, war, terrorism, political turmoil, suffering, pain, and death bring us tidings of discomfort and fear. We fear whatever it is lurking in the darkness we can and cannot see. However, in the midst of the darkness, the presence of the True Light, Jesus Christ, makes all the difference in the world for us.
In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters of chaos (Genesis 1). He began to bring order to the chaos with a simple command: “Let there be light”. John explains to us in John 1:1-9 that Jesus is the true light that cannot be extinguished by darkness.
The light of Jesus, then, illumines us as we live in this world of darkness. We may first scramble around like Ava, Braden, and Drew when the power outage left us in darkness, but the end of our search for the light in our world begins and ends in Jesus. And because Jesus is the light, he makes us lights in the world around us. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells his disciples that they, because they are his disciples, are the light in this dark world. Paul would later say that, “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Therefore, we are “to let our light shine before others” so that, ultimately, God the Father in heaven is glorified by all. We all need to be reminded of this command of Jesus as we live in our world each day as the city set on the hill that cannot be hidden.
To help us remember this truth, our acolytes bring forth the light to the Lord’s Table each week during worship. Yes, the same little children who are often scared of the dark proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ! The deeply symbolic act of lighting two candles on the Lord’s Table reminds us of who God is, where God is, and who we are because of God. The little children who bring this light proclaim that Jesus Christ is the light of the world and is present in our lives every minute of every day. They proclaim that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. They proclaim that Jesus has conquered the powers of darkness and will not be defeated by any evil. They proclaim that Jesus Christ has entered each of our lives and set us up as a city on a hill to the glory of God the Father. These are but a few of the proclamations made by the acolytes each Sunday.
Then, at the conclusion of each service, those same acolytes return to take the light from the Lord’s Table into the world. We do not leave church under our own power. We do not leave with no travel plans. Jesus leads, we follow. Jesus is the light of the world and wherever he leads us is the mission field of God. It is in these mission fields where we let our light shine. We follow Jesus with the confidence that the light cannot be overcome by darkness. Paul says in Romans 8:37 that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Therefore, we do not leave our “Sunday-selves” behind in the sanctuary after worship. We carry our worship into the dark world and prayerfully allow the light of Christ to shine through us as we serve God each day with faith to know Christ has conquered every enemy we will face.
The next time you see the acolytes bring forth the light into the sanctuary and take forth the light from it, may you be filled with the confidence that Christ is in our presence always (or better, we are in Christ’s presence always). May you know that he has brought an end to all things that threaten to harm you. May you have faith that in him you are able to triumphantly enter the world and do all things despite the attacks of Satan. May you victoriously carry with you the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: God is with us; God loves us; God is for us (and if God is for us, who could be against us?). We have this with all certainty in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.