Scripture: Romans 13:11-12
As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the tools of light.
A PORTION OF SUNDAY’S SERMON: I had a number of people request that I share the list of six “simple and random” ideas for bringing light to those who live in the shadow of hopelessness. They were not intended to be an exhaustive list or even an overly creative list. They were more of a random selection of ideas that would hopefully encourage even more creative ideas. The following is what I shared in my sermon:
1. We need to help people get out of their heads. Hopelessness causes people to become disconnected from others, and when there is no one else around, people talk to themselves. The conversations people have in their heads tend to intensify anxiety and fear that first prompted the feelings of hopelessness. We need to invite people to get out of their heads and get into hand-holding. Those who have distanced themselves from others need to reconnect. Community doesn’t belong in the theoretical, but in tangible expressions like hand-holding, hugging or offering a supportive shoulder on which to lean. Offer a hand to someone.
2. We cannot wait for people to exit their darkness before reaching out to them. We need to use God as our model, for God chose to enter the darkness with the gift of hope. We need to pull back the curtains and let the light shine. I always loved the story of the woman whose neighbor was going through a period of darkness. She was overwhelmed in her hopelessness after her spouse’s death. The woman took breakfast over to her neighbor every morning, but after entering the house, the first thing she did was to open the curtains and let the light in. She knew that her neighbor would have otherwise sat in the darkness all day.
3. We need to invite people to take Sabbaticals from social media and the news. Right now, these are creating and communicating some of the most negative energy in our world. They reinforce people’s fears and anxieties, pushing them further into the darkness. On our break from social media and the news, we need to try something outrageous and actually socialize and make news worth telling.
4. We should memorize short portions of scripture and offer them as gifts. A friend of mine’s son was going through a difficult time. Three times each day, my friend would send his son the same verse of scripture. It read:
“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness could not extinguish the light.”
Every morning, noon and evening, those words would come to his son’s email box. Each time, his son would we read the words out loud. At first, he said the words but did not believe them. But weeks of repeating them over and over, he came to a place in his life where he truly believed that the light came into his darkness, and the darkness was unable to extinguish the light.
5. It may sound overly simple, but we need to invite people to take a walk – a walk in the neighborhood or a park. Not only are you outside and walking alongside another human being, but you will pass by other people, giving them a nod or a ‘good morning!’ The person is interacting with more and more people, even if it is nothing but a quick acknowledgement.
6. And finally, out of our Congregational Conversations earlier in the fall, I challenged people to be in worship at least 75% of the time, if not more. This is not simply because we need to be in worship, but each of us has been given tools of light (Romans 13:12). The way God has gifted you might just be the gift someone else is needing. Your presence in worship might just be the instrument by which God will shine light – shine light into the life of a person who happened to show up that morning desperately yearning for even a glimmer of hope.