Beginnings: Light & Darkness
Then GOD said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. and GOD saw that the light was good; and God separated the light form the darkness. GOD called the light Day, and darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. –Genesis 1:3-5
How fortunate we are to be able to separate light from dark with the mere flip of a switch! When my mother was a little girl, oil lamps lit their nights, wood fired the kitchen stove, and human hands pulled water from the well. It wasn’t until she was grown and away from home that her parents finally had electricity run to the house and shortly thereafter a party line phone.
Access to electric lights has always been a part of my life, so darkness really gets my attention. When a storm downs power lines, rendering not only lights but alarm clocks, hair dryers, and phones useless, I notice and am reminded of what a gift electrical current really is. When we camp, and the darkness surrounds us like a blanket as the fire slowly fades to embers, I notice the dark.
When I was a child, my parents took me to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. At one point on the tour all the lights were extinguished, and for just a minute I knew complete darkness. There were no fire embers, no flashlights, no candles–just darkness so thick you could almost touch it. I still remember vividly that feeling some 44 years later. When the ranger turned on his lantern again, it didn’t take long for that single light to illumine the underground room in which we stood so that we could see one another again. What a wonderful feeling it was to not only feel my parents’ hands but to see them. Any feelings of doubt or fright I was experiencing were washed away by the faint light of the ranger’s lantern. I also remember those strange, pale, eyeless cave fish who had become so used to living in complete darkness that they ceased to grow eye structures and significant skin pigmentation, but that’s a story for another day!
So I am thankful that God spoke light into existence, I am thankful to have access to light when I need it, and I am thankful to have eyes with which to see the light. Most of all, I am thankful for the light of Christ. As the fourth evangelist wrote so beautifully, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5). Let there be light; let there be light, indeed!
For Further Reflection:
Have you ever taken part in a candlelight Christmas Eve service or a candlelight vigil? Isn’t is amazing how one candle lighting others can create such a warm and inviting light? Today, darken a room as much as possible and light a single candle. Think about God speaking light into existence and how even the light of one small candle can overcome darkness. How much more can the light of Christ banish darkness! Offer a prayer of thanksgiving for light. Ask Christ to allow you to reflect his light to the world and to shine the light of hope and grace into dark places. Be prepared for God to use you as a light in the darkness.
Consider naming one night this week or even one hour as a sabbath from electricity. Use only candles, turn off the television, radios, and don’t use anything that relies on electric power. Notice the silence, the absence of the hum of computers and other electronics. Enjoy the warm glow of candlelight, perhaps even dining by candlelight. What do you notice? What did you learn? What does this say about our reliance on electricity? What would it be like to have to live without it for an extended period of time?