Lord of Light
elen Keller tells of the moment of illumination when Annie Sullivan first broke through her dark, silent world with the light of language.
"Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten-- a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that w-a-t-e-r meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!" (Helen Keller: The Story of my Life).
Later her teacher explained the simple story of salvation to her and Helen Keller then knew that it was Our Lord of Light that had illumined her soul and mind. In her dark silence she perceived what we in our loud flashing world often dont see or hear: Our bodies walking in light with souls dead in darkness.
The Psalmist is portraying more than electromagnetic radiation in our text. David, the shepherd king, is spelling out for us his own experience when he says, "The Lord, is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" (v.1, KJV).
Throughout the Bible and western culture, light is seen as being characteristic of salvation and education while darkness is seen to be indicative of ignorance and damnation. I heard this week a story about a man who died and was met by the Devil who offered him a choice between going to the land of darkness, or that of heavenly light.
"You mean I can still choose?" The man asked.
"Sure," the Devil said, "Do you want to take a look at each place?" (This is not a true story, nobody lives to tell it.) "Lets look at hell first."
So they took the down elevator. When the doors opened, hell was light and beautiful and looked like a beautiful garden. People seemed friendly and happy.
"Well this is great!" the man said, "But I suppose we had better take the up elevator to look at heaven." However, about half way up he said, "You know hell looked so great and I saw a lot of my friends there, lets just go back."
"Sure said the Devil, but you know that you must stay forever."
About then the doors opened to hell and they saw darkness and people being tortured in burning torment. "Whats this?" the man asked, "What happened to the place of light?"
"Oh," said the Devil, "that first visit was just sales, this is customer service."
Needless to say, none of us would choose eternal darkness, but the haunting dilemma is that sometimes, "we prefer darkness rather than light because our deeds are evil." (Jn. 3:19). I remember how we kept the lights dimmed, at college frat parties. Why? Because we were up to something bad--- our deeds were evil. However, once I came to have the Inner Light switched on in my soul, I found myself reveling in the light. Suddenly the world was bright and joyful, and God gave me a happy tune to whistle. I would be afraid that if I tried to go to a place of darkness nowadays that my friend Jesus would have to wait for me outside, and I could not bear that.
Is it possible that folks can live in our Christian society and not be aware of the option of living in the light? I read a true story this week of a Canadian woman who had a rather simple eye surgery that restored her sight after 50 years of blindness. The sad part is that the procedure had been readily available for 30 years. She just did not know about it and assumed she would be in the dark forever. Our mission is to spread the word that nobody needs to remain in spiritual darkness--- Light and Salvation is readily available.
The word "light" is also used to describe education, the lamp of learning. God wants us to investigate subjects like history so that we can have something to compare our present situation to. We cant study the future. But when we have lived through past centuries we are somehow immune to the endless nonsense that pours from the media and microphone.
To experience the reality of Christ and to read and know this revealed truth in the Bible is an education in itself. This is how a believer like John Bunyan, without any formal education, was able to write a book that astonished the whole world. Wherever the Bible has been translated into indigenous tongues, light, salvation, and Christian culture has followed.
A WW-II veteran told the story some years ago of liberating islands in the Pacific. Most people they found had very little idea of culture and spiritual light. As he described it, "They lived like cats and dogs." But our liberators landed on one island where the people were clean and courteous. Their streets and homes were swept and they were proud of their library and their sugar plant. The soldiers soon found the reason why. Christian missionaries had introduced the Bible to them some years before the war and their lives had been lifted to a higher level. Years later an entire family of 16 from that island nation immigrated to our community and joined my church. I have never known a nicer group of devout and hard working believers. The fact is that the whole world would be groveling in the dark if it were not for what God has done through his Son, The Light of the World.
My Uncle Winfred was reared in a coal mining village near Birmingham. He loved taking his nephews to the mine on Saturdays; and we loved seeing the giant conveyor belts and loaders that heaped the black diamonds into the train cars. However, the thing I remember best were the work mules that spent all week deep in the pitch black mines never seeing the light of day; but, on weekends they would move them out into the light so that they would not go totally blind. These giants seemed to be in heaven in the sun, you could read pleasure on their faces--- Kind of like the joy I see in your faces when you bask in the joy of the presence of Our Lord of Light in this His Sanctuary.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor