We are all searching for signs of Light In these dark times marked by the ongoing COVID-19, deep polarization, families struggling to survive financially, depression, racial injustice and so much more.
This #hashtag campaign, #LiveWithLight, will use ‘the peoples’ messaging’ through United Methodist congregations to spread a message of hope that the Light of Jesus always overcomes life’s painful struggles and difficulties.
The Conference will be offering collections of devotions, prayers and tool kits for leading with this scripture and theme.
#LiveWithLight Cabinet Devotionals
Bishop Gary Mueller
Bishop Gary Mueller
“Brighter and Brighter and Brighter”
Week of February 28 – March 6
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
(John 1:1-5 “The Message”)
I would never identify myself as a writer. However, I write a lot, including daily reflections about doing real life with Jesus in the abundance of his unconditional, invitational and transformational love.
One thing has become absolutely clear to me as I have written day in and day out about real life and real faith. Life can become dark because it is hard and difficult. No one is immune. For some, it is so oppressive we literally cannot truly understand their burden.
I’ve also discovered another kind of darkness that, to put it bluntly, has a much darker side. It results when we human beings – including those of us who spend our lives as Jesus’ followers – live in ways that are fundamentally opposed to God’s Will. Sadly, it doesn’t take long to see the catastrophic results of our sin. The world becomes darker and darker and darker right before our eyes.
Far more important than the darkness in which we live, however, is the fact that there is Good News so great it can only be called awesome news: We don’t have to live in fear of the darkness. Jesus, the Light of the world who created all that is, has come smack dab into the middle of the world to redeem it and us. His Light cannot be overcome even by darkness that seems impenetrable.
What this means should make sense intuitively because we understand how light works. What happens when you turn on your phone’s flashlight app when you are in a dark room? You can see. What was it like to be afraid of the dark as a child and have your parents turn on a light? You were immediately much braver. What is it like to sit by a campfire in the midst of the cold dark woods at night? You can see and, more importantly, are warmed physically and in your soul. This is what Jesus’ Light does, only on a grander scale. It brilliantly lights up every dark space with salvation, joy, love, justice, and hope.
Jesus’ Light is divine light. It does not just illuminate what’s around us, it penetrates our souls and illuminates us from the inside out. This happens through his unconditional love that accepts us as we are regardless of what we have done or not done. His invitational love that sometimes nudges – and sometimes challenges – us to accept him as our Savior who offers salvation and our Lord who is in charge of how we live. And his transformational love that allows his light to burn brighter and brighter and brighter in us as we grow in holiness in our relationship with God and others.
Jesus makes it clear throughout the Gospels that the most important work we have in life is to nurture the Light he has given us so it shines brighter and brighter and brighter. In fact, it’s so critical it’s our vocation. But how do we do this when we don’t have the luxury of ignoring all of our many responsibilities of caring for and loving family, paying the mortgage, being successful at work, contributing as a responsible citizen, and being a good neighbor? We do it the only place we can do it. Through all these things we do in real life every single day – changing diapers, mowing the lawn, helping those in need, cooking dinner for our kids, dealing with office politics, and spending time with our spouse. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, Jesus’ Light is meant for real life as well as eternal life.
Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, we also realize something else. We can’t keep the Light Jesus has given us to ourselves because we feel a deep desire to share it with others. Not out of guilt or because we think we are better than others. But because we want others to experience the extraordinary difference Jesus makes in ordinary life. What is more, we discover that it becomes a joy and privilege to shine brightly as we pray during dark times with others, change light bulbs they can’t reach, invite them to worship, serve as a listening and accepting ear, shovel snow off their driveways, serve at a homeless shelter, and even speak boldly about the sins of racism, childhood hunger and sex trafficking that smother them.
Ultimately, this whole Light thing is really pretty basic. Jesus invites us to #LiveWithLight – in our lives and the lives of others. When we do, a miracle occurs. We glow brighter and brighter and brighter.