I once took a group of fourth- and fifth-graders to an observatory to look at stars and learn about constellations. We talked about how there is so much we can learn about God by sitting in the dark that we cannot learn in the light of day. We looked up through a telescope at a dying star, and one of the kids asked what happens after a star dies. The observatory guide who was helping us explained in a simple way that the light goes out, turns to dust, and a lot of the material is the foundation for new stars to be formed.
In the darkness there is light and death; and there is resurrection.
John’s Gospel is defined by the themes of light and darkness. In chapter 1, John tells us of the light that has come into the world that no darkness can overcome. Now, in chapter 3, John tells us how people who do evil hate the light and those who do what is true come to the light. Is it as simple as that?
So often, we are quick to put light and dark at odds with one another when, in reality, light and darkness coexist. They complement each other and tell us things about ourselves and about God that we could not know without leaving space for both.
As I think about our trip to the observatory, I still ask the question, What can we learn in the dark that we cannot learn in the light of day? As we continue to encounter the wilderness season, we are challenged to ask ourselves why we are spending so much time in the dark or why we are so quick to run to the light. Encountering the wilderness is hard and requires us to sit in the tension. Maybe take a walk in the dark tonight and see what comes up for you. Then remember that in darkness, there is light and death; and there is resurrection.
God, you created light and dark. May we hold space for both in our lives so that we rediscover ourselves and reconnect to you. Amen.
Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.
Read Numbers 21:4-9. When do you complain to God? Does your complaining ever interfere with your sense of God’s presence with you?
Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. What practice helps you to thank God each day for God’s steadfast love?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. How does your sense of God’s salvation and grace move you to do good works?
Read John 3:14-21. How do you act as a creature of light in the world? What are your “deeds that have been done in God”?
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