GIFTED | the LIGHT we carry
There may be no tidy solutions or pithy answers to life’s big challenges. Yet we believe each of us can locate and lean on a set of tools to help us better navigate change and remain steady within flux. In The Light We Carry Sermon Series, Pastor Johnson opens a frank and honest dialogue considering the questions many of us wrestle with: How do we build enduring and honest relationships? How can we discover strength and community inside our differences? What tools do we use to address feelings of self-doubt or helplessness? What do we do when it all starts to feel like too much?
These are questions Pastor Johnson seeks to address using John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
It is this light that we all carry that has been the testimony of our people from ages past to this very moment - this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine!
Flashlight of Hope | John 1:1-5
The whole of the story of God and God’s people found in the Bible is one of moving from darkness to light. The first thing God spoke into existence was light to counter the formless void and darkness. The written story in the Bible ends with a promise of a new heaven where night no longer exists because God’s light shines continually.
The Bible constantly affirms that when God comes on the scene, there is light. And even in the darkness, God is. And even in the dark, dangerous, and desolate wilderness of Palestine at the time of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, as Delores Williams, the forerunner of womanist theology points us. The first Christmas speaks of a simple family, Joseph, the carpenter, and his pregnant wife. The situation forced them to relocate, be displaced, and ultimately become refugees. We relive that simple family’s powerlessness, its flight in the merciless winter to Bethlehem, and its struggle to find a place for the birth of the child.
Yet, Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Jesus is the only source of true light in this spiritually dark world. Like a powerful flashlight in our hands, we carry the same light. That light illuminates our path and can make a way for others as well.
Fire of Joy | John 1:4
Joy shouldn't be a once-in-a-while experience like lightning striking. Instead, the power to strike the fire of Joy is #thelightwecarry as believers. As we move through the Advent Season, the angel’s message to the shepherds was one of “good tidings of great joy.” It serves as a reminder that the Christmas message is one of rejoicing. The re-election of Reverend Raphael Warnock to the United States Senate and the release of Brittney Griner were experiences of collective joy our community shared after so much collective pain.
What do you know about joy? For most of us, “rejoicing” is not a word we use frequently in our vocabulary, let alone an action we embrace as a daily discipline. All too often, joy is confused with happiness. And although related, they are not the same. In short, happiness tends to be linked to external circumstances, while joy burns from deep within. This is the key to understanding the transcendency in the old negro spiritual - this Joy I have the world didn't give to me!
Regardless of who comes and what goes, there was light even before the Sun and there will be light even after the Sun is no more. Plus you have the creative power to strike JOY anytime you or others need it!
Christmas Lights of Love | John 1:3
God’s nature is love. God's made all things including a love toward mankind that is unconditional. Listen to what God's Word says about love in 1 Corinthians 13. We reflect that love in romantic relationships, friendships, and toward our neighbors. Yet like Christmas lights, love can become a tangled mess within our relationships.
Before you discard love like last year's strand, here are 3 points to holding on to your lights:
Find the beginning and the end of the strand. Detangling is possible with the tool of "remembrance" and "imagination". The former takes you back to what brought you together in the first place; while the latter lifts you above the negative and towards the virtuous.
Connect to the Power Source. Just as Christmas lights cannot shine unless plugged into electrical power; our relationships can not truly shine unless connected to God.
Share with others. Like the best Christmas lights, allow others to plug into your life and be connected to the same power that illuminates your life.
This Christmas Season let LOVE, our real Christmas Light, be on display.
SPECIAL GIVING THIS MONTH