November 27, 2016
First Presbyterian Church – Coeur d’Alene
Message Series: The World of the Light
Message: Part 1: Out of the Darkness
Scripture Text: Matthew 4:16-17
1. We are starting a new series of messages to help you spiritually through Advent season leading up to
Christmas, focusing on passages that link Jesus with Light.
2. Christmas decorations tend to use lights in some way. Try to imagine a beautifully decorated Christmas tree with the most amazing ornaments but with no light strings. Just wouldn’t be right.
a. The brightest Christmas
decoration is often a star.
i. For Christians, the star helps us remember the light which led the magi to Bethlehem and the little child named Jesus, born to be a king.
b. Humans are instinctively drawn to the purest lights, and for most of us that’s starlight.
i. The Dark Sky Movement was formed to try to minimize the effects of light pollution so people could enjoy seeing as many stars as possible.
ii. Dark Sky websites identify Dark Sky locations throughout the world which are the best for viewing the stars.
1. The darkest place on earth? The San Pedro de Atacama region of Northern Chile.
2. The nearest dark skies to CDA? We are halfway between the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Central Idaho and the Goat
Range Provincial Park in Alberta.
iii. But I remember a camping trip Brynna and I took a couple summers ago to Round Lake State Park just a half-hour away from here. We laid on a dock and gazed up at the Milky Way in its full glory.
c. Scotobiology studies the critical role darkness plays in life. 1/3 of vertebrates and 2/3 of invertebrates are nocturnal who do most of their living in the dark.
i. Humans need darkness too. Light pollution interrupts are circadian rhythms and contributes to psychological disorders and can even can cause some cancers.
d. We need darkness to appreciate light; and we need light to appreciate darkness.
3. God’s Message for today includes both: Read Matthew 4:16, which is Jesus quoting and fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 500 years earlier.
a. Search scripture using the worlds “Darkness” or “Light” and you’ll find hundreds of verses for both, including some very recognizable ones.
i. from “Let there be light” in the first chapter of Genesis to “the Lord God will be their light” In the last chapter of Revelation.
ii. But you’ll also be amazed at how many verses include both Darkness and Light.
iii. There is a powerful metaphorical relationship between the two all through the Bible.
b. The Greek words used in this text in Matthew -Phos and Skotos – are
opposites: they need each other to have any meaning.
i. Phos means to shine in the darkness; skotos simply means the absence of light.
c. The setting of this verse is Jesus preaching and healing in the region of Galilee in northern Israel. It’s very rural, so it’s one of the darkest places in Israel.
i. But it’s also spiritually dark. It’s been conquered and ruled over for centuries; a crossroads of trade between dozens of cultures. Pure religion is hard to
ii. Jesus forsakes the religious centers like Jerusalem and goes first to Galilee.
d. The darker the place, the better to appreciate the light of God when it comes to you.
4. Which leads me to a question to ask you: What is your region of greatest darkness? I don’t mean a physical place,
but inside your soul. And I want to ask you to go there for a moment. (It’s OK – this is a safe place, and we’re not going to make you reveal it).
a. Maybe your greatest darkness is the evil and tyranny in the world which victimizes or oppresses you; causing you to live in constant dread, anxiety and fear.
b. Maybe your greatest darkness is a relationship with somebody which isn’t right, which burdens you and robs you of joy.
c. Maybe your greatest darkness is a deeply personal one – guilt, shame, regret, failure, and brokenness – a heavy chain which keeps you in a dark prison.
d. Why would I ask you to go to that dark place, especially during this season of light?
i. Because in God’s Way, Darkness is the necessary beginning point for light.
5. If I was to give you a phrase (what some might call a mantra) to repeat to yourself this Advent Season, it would be “Seek the darkness, see the light.”
a. Finding your darkest darkness isn’t hard. You don’t have to go to northern Chile or Canadian Rockies or the heart of the Bitterroots. It’s where you live.
i. Jesus says we ‘dwell’ in the darkness. The word means to “sit down.” All you have to do is stop, let down your guard, open your eyes and look around truthfully, and
the darkness will quickly envelope you.
ii. The strongest faith is acknowledging the darkness, then getting up from the seated position and walking toward and with the light that shines the clearest and brightest in the darkness.
iii. We believe and proclaim that is Jesus, called “The Light of the World.”
b. You see, it’s easy to get fooled by lights in the world and imagine that if we work really hard to keep them on and surround ourselves with them at all time they will keep the darkness at bay.
c. But going into the darkness allows us to see the light of the world.
i. Jesus says, “Those who are in the land of darkness, on them light has dawned.”
ii. But it also goes on to say (Matthew 4:17) “Repent!” Get up! Stop sitting in darkness! Go toward the light of Christ!
d. And – here’s the coolest thing – As
we walk in His light, He also uses us to be His light for others in their darkness, in the midst of a dark world.
6. So I’m going to give us some Advent practices to do this week, during this season leading up to Christmas.
a. The first is to enjoy the Christmas lights, but don’t be fooled by them. Open your eyes and acknowledge the darkness in the world that strings of Christmas lights can’t hide. Note it. Contemplate it. Allow it to envelope you.
b. Next, enjoy the sentimentality of the season, but don’t be fooled by it. As you gather with friends and family, and engage with people around you, open your eyes to darkness shared in relationships which the sentimentality can’t fully hide. Note it. Contemplate it. Allow it to envelope you.
c. And finally, enjoy the warm feelings and memories of Christmas, but don’t be fooled by them. Go inside yourself and acknowledge the darkness within you that dwells there. The failures, disappointments, struggles, wounds and griefs. Note them. Contemplate them. Allow them to envelope you.
d. And then, look up. Try to find the brightest star. And then start walking by faith. Follow it.