June 13, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forevermore. AMEN. (2 Peter 3.17-18)
“The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of His hands. By day, day after day, they pour forth speech. By night, night after night, they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 19.1-2
I believe it would be wise to focus on David’s song of wisdom for a moment. As we press into our daily routine, aren’t we often struck by the awesomeness of God in nature? Beyond the sunrises and sunsets which are spectacular, think of all the things that we see “in the light of day.” Are there things in nature we too easily take for granted like grass and leaves (except when they are changing back to their true color in the Fall). What about the contour of the landscape, the streams and mini-waterfalls or ponds? Don’t they capture a reflection of the effort of the Creator to make the earth a welcome place to live? What about those “happenstances and coincidences” which occur that redirect us out of harm’s way or put us in the right position to bear witness to the goodness and mercy of God? What about human life itself in its myriad representatives? Or even the weather from calming winds to hurricanes that lift the seas to incredible heights as they push down to solid ground beneath the surface? Heat, cold, dry, humid, stormy, snowy and the list can go on to exhibit the creativity and intricate detail of the Word of God spoken in bringing life to life. We may enjoy it. We may fear it. It is all an expression of the glory of God we are called to understand, respect and give thanks.
What about the “light of night”? As part of God’s creation, He set the sun into the heavens to show the turn of day into night and night into day. He also set others stars, planets and moons into the sky to give light in the darkness. The intention, I believe, is that we are never truly “in the dark.” While in the light of day, we are given a broader and fuller view of the works of God’s hands, mind, heart and spirit, in the light of night we are called to focus and concentrate on what is visible and what is not. There is a circle of awareness that surrounds us like that of a flashlight. We move the circle to see other things but then that which we have seen falls into darkness. It is a matter of revelation, bringing what was in the dark to light.
All of this doesn’t speak only to nature and the earth around us. (I am intentional to not say “the world around us” because I use the word world to apply to humans and the human community.) It also speaks to knowledge, wisdom and revelation which comes to us in our experiences and pursuits of life’s meaning and purpose for ourselves. As I was reflecting yesterday consider the light of day and night, my attention was drawn to Luke’s recording of the Parables of the Lost (chapter 15). In the first parable, the Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep, the shepherd was committed to due diligence. He used all the hours of the “day” to discover the whereabouts of the lost sheep; dead or alive. In the night, he may have carried a torch albeit unlikely. He would have probably struck a campfire and sang a song the sheep was familiar with. His hope was to draw the sheep into the light. It was also a way of keeping evil at bay. If a wolf or bear or lion crossed the barrier which the light created they would become visible, too, and more easily fended off. In the third parable, the Lost Sons, the father kept the homefires burning. By day, he sat on the front porch to keep watch over his homestead and could see his oldest son hard at work. It gratified him but it did not distract him from being on watch for the younger son who had decided to step into the world on his own. He had crossed the barrier of his father’s home light into the darkness of the world. I believe that the father had someone follow his son and keep track on his daily journey. The father never “lost sight” of his son but he never inflicted his will on him either. While his son was “lost,” he was never lost to his father. And when the son saw the light of truth revealed in his father’s mercy and grace by the contrast of the absence of it in the world, he returned home. As soon as he crossed the barrier of the line of sight (like the circle of darkness), the father not only saw him but ran immediately to him. With gasping breath, he gathered the lost sheep in and “put him on his shoulder” to return him to the sheep pen like a good shepherd. It was something the oldest son could not “see.” His vision became dark when he dared to consider his own self. He was not different then than his brother. He, in turn, stepped out of the light and was “in the dark” as to his father’s logic and reconciliation.
It is the second parable, the Woman with Her Lost Coin, that spoke to me first. I had heard the parable and something whispered in my thinking “she put on the light.” When she had lost her coin, one of ten representing her dowry and worth, she knew it was in the house somewhere. There was no electrical power in those days. There were no flashlights to illumine dark corners or under tables and chests. She put on the light with a candle and began to clean house. She moved, straightened, dusted, swept and reset things in order. During her due diligence she found the coin. It was brought into the light and her future was restored. In the laying out of the three events, Luke had the second parable with the focused reflection on the light. A burning candle, a flame of fire, was a critical element in representing the gospel. Matthew spoke of not putting a candle under a bushel basket to hide it. The basket would be consumed by it and the fire would have been devastating. Instead, we are to be like a city set on a hill. Jerusalem was set on a hill and illumined by great “candle light” so that it was visible in the night for miles and miles. It was revealing the glory of God by day and by night. John spoken of the light which the darkness could not consume. It was the light of life and the light of all men. It was Jesus, of course, as the Word of God come into the “world” to lead us through David’s “valley of shadows of death.” The imagery follows all the way to His arrest at night, His trial at night, His betrayal at the break of dawn, His crucifixion as the sun went dark, His resurrection at dawn and Peter’s reconciliation in the early morning as the sun rose over grilled fish and bread. Luke carries it further to remind us of the light of revelation given at Pentecost which empowered the disciples to carry the gospel into all the world beginning at home in Jerusalem in the Temple.
All of that to bring to light the glory of God who is for us and against sin. It is the light of His love that can drive away the darkness of doubt, fear and hatred. We would be wise to heed it.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER: Father God, maker of Heaven and earth, we bow before You and give thanks. You are seeking to make us wise in the ways of Your Kingdom through the knowledge and grace of Your Son, Jesus who is the Christ. We are seeking to be wise by embracing Your word and Your revelation in Him. Thank You for honoring His request to share His Spirit with us. As we believe more, we find the depth of grace and the fullness of knowledge to be exhilarating and motivating. We will take it with us today and each day into the world knowing it is the new environment by which and in which we live. It is the Kingdom of God on earth. We will seek to be in the world to do Your will and not be of the world doing our own. Come with us, Lord, we pray. AMEN.