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God Made it Possible
November 23, 1980

St. Paul's United Methodist Church


So far this morning, we've been thankful for sunshine, rainbows, rivers, seas, meadows, fields, forests. What are some other things you're thankful for? You're thankful for you—that’s good. Bobby: thankful for God. Tim: thankful for the choir. One more, what are you thankful for? Ann: the songs. Very good. We could add on and on to the list. Last week, we went to a program at Lincoln School and one of the classes demonstrated sign language to a song. They played a record and the class demonstrated the sign language without singing or saying anything—in complete silence. And it suddenly dawned on me, an “aha” experiences. I've known all my life that deaf people can’t hear, but it suddenly dawned on me, hit me, impacted me that deaf people can't hear music. Thank God that you can hear music.

Paul to the church in Colosse, in our scripture lesson this morning, gave us another reason to give thanks. He encouraged the people, admonished the people at that church to give thanks for their salvation. Listen to his words, “Thank God who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light. Because that is what God has done: taken us out of the power of darkness, and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son.” Thank God this Thanksgiving that you have been transferred out of darkness and into light. Thank God this Thanksgiving God has provided and made it possible for you to be in the light. This image of darkness and light is very popular in the Bible, the prophets used it. Jesus on many occasions, contrasted darkness with light. And Paul included it in his letters several times. Darkness in the Bible was a term used to designate evil, sin, iniquity—the kinds of things that people do in the dark but don't dare do in the light. 

Darkness was also a term used to designate ignorance of the will of God. People stumble about trying to find their way, slipping, falling and tripping because they're in the dark. Like when you try to walk to the little room in the middle of the night and you haven't turned the light on. You run into the door and into the wall and fall down. That's how people are in the world who are ignorant of God's will.They just don't know how to put it together. 

But, God shone the light in the midst of the darkness and God shines the light supremely through Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we see the light of God. Paul goes on in this passage and talks about how God created everything in and through Jesus Christ. Christ was present with God when God created the universe. Through Christ God created. This means that in Jesus Christ, we see the very nature of creation, the very essence of creation. What God was intending in creation, we see in Jesus. Jesus reveals to us what God was about. Jesus reveals to us what life is supposed to be like, and how people are supposed to live. 

Paul goes on. Through Christ, God made it possible for us to experience what the creation was all about. Through Christ dying, through Christ's suffering, through Jesus’ great love, through his willingness to forgive and show the mercy of God, we see that God desires to forgive us, reconcile us and bring us out of the darkness into the light. It is God's will for us and God has provided the means for us to enjoy the creation and to live our lives to the fullest. Christ has made it possible. It's a gift. To be transferred from darkness into light is a gift. To live forever is a gift, to go to heaven is a gift. To experience fellowship and relationship with God is a gift. You don't have to do anything. You don't have to earn anything. It's no reward for your good deeds or your good thoughts, or your beliefs or being in the right church. You don't do it. God has made it possible. It's God's gift to you and to me to live forever. It's God's gift to experience salvation in Christ, it's God's gift to be out of the darkness into light. 

Thank God this Thanksgiving. Praise God because our response is to relax and to say, “Whew, what a load off my mind!” You don't have to worry about it. You don't have to wonder about it. You don't have to say, “Well, I guess I'm going to heaven. I hope I'm going to heaven. I hope I'm in the light.” You don't have to say any of that. It's a gift given to you. God has made it possible. So relax, enjoy life and give thanks to God. Isn't that wonderful? God has made it possible and has created a place for you in the light, says Paul.

Therefore, live in the light, be in the light, walk in the light. Out of gratitude to God for your salvation, give thanks to God. Walk in the light and share that light. In this Thanksgiving season, look at yourself as being the light. What does it mean to be a Christian and be a Christian witness and mission? Look at yourself as being the light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before people that they will see God through you.” And Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:8-10, 15, “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord.” Be like children of light. The effects of the light are seen in complete goodness, right living and truth. Try to discover what the Lord wants of you. So be very careful about the sort of lives you lead. Like intelligent and not like senseless people, live in the light. You were once in darkness, but now you're in the light and because you're in the light there ought to be a difference in the way you live. For there is a responsibility about being in the light. There should be ramifications and results in the way you live. 

Let's look at light. What are some characteristics of light that helps us to see how to live? What is there about life that helps you in your lifestyle to be a witness, to live day by day? What is there about light? First, light brings warmth. On a cold day like today, isn't it great when suddenly the clouds part and the sun shines? How warm we all feel. 

Second, light brings healing. When you have a backache or your neck hurts, or your arm aches, doesn't it feel so good to lay in the sun and let the sun penetrate right through to the bones and heal you. 

Light brings warmth, light brings healing and, third, light brings brightness. In a dark room, you turn on the light, and suddenly you can see. Are you the kind of person that wherever you go you take warmth, healing and brightness with you? When you enter a room or when you are in a group, or when you participate in a discussion, do you bring joy, brightness, warmth and healing? Or do you bring doom and gloom and defeat? Are you a doomer and a gloomer? Or, are you a bright spot in the wilderness and the darkness? Do you bring joy, radiance and brightness, or doom and gloom? 

In this Thanksgiving time, when was the last time you expressed appreciation to someone? Thanked someone instead of criticizing and finding everything wrong. When was the last time you said, “Hey, I appreciate you. I'm thankful for you?” Husbands, when was the last time you told your wife,“I appreciate you?” Or vice versa. When you enter a store or talk to a clerk or a waiter or waitress, are you a spot of light in their day? It’s hard work standing on cement all day long. Do you bring a little joy in their life, or are you another doomer and complainer? What about school? How many of you kids have ever said to your teacher? “Thank you for being my teacher.” Have you ever done that? No? Do that before Thanksgiving this week. He or she will fall over if you go up and say “Hey, thank you for being my teacher.” And look at the way you are in school. Are you the kind of person that when the teacher sees you come in the room, she says, “O boy, so and so came to school today!” Or does she say, “Oh, here he comes again!” Do you bring gloom and doom or are you a bright spot of sunshine in people's lives? 

Try it.  Bring a little joy and warmth because there's a lot of sadness in this world. There's a lot of pessimism and negativism. There's a lot of discouragement and a lot of pressure. There's a lot of division between the races, between the classes, in the towns, in the world. There’s a lot of division and the Christian who is the light of the world—as a church and as individuals—brings warmth, healing and brightness to this dark world. Shine! 

Fourth, light illuminates. Light shines up the dark spots. When you turn on a light, the darkness disappears and you see everything that is going on. It illuminates it. Paul tells us we are to be those kinds of people. In Ephesians 5:11, 13-14 Paul writes, “Have nothing to do with the futile works of darkness, but expose them…Anything exposed by the light will be illuminated and anything illuminated turns into light.” This may be a wicked age, but your life should redeem it. That’s our task: redeem this wicked world by shining. They say that studies have proven that when the lights are on, there is less thievery and less vandalism outside buildings. There is less evil—evil is kind of neutralized by the light. 

Let's be those people who illuminate darkness where evil is neutralized, everything is exposed and brought into view. For when everything is exposed, says Paul, it will be illuminated. And finally, ultimately, it will be in the light and will turn into light. Perhaps that's our role as Christians and as a church— to illuminate. Wherever you are, in your discussions when we're setting policies, or in our church work, or wherever you're relating with people, be the illuminator. I don't think we have to have all the answers and I know we don't have them. We don't have to have the answers in this day and age, but we should illuminate so that all the questions are raised. I don't have all the answers to our complex world problems that are facing us as a world and as a country, but I certainly am not happy with some of the very simple answers that people are giving today. It seems to me our role is to illuminate, to ask questions and raise the issues up into the light. I saw a sign this week that said, “It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” It is better to raise all the issues than to be satisfied with simplistic answers. There are a lot of people giving us simplistic answers to very complex issues on television and in politics. And now these groups that organized around the election are telling the president, “Hey, we got you elected and you better support our issue.” And they're usually very simplistic. As individuals, and as a church, let us illuminate. 

We hear the simple statement that America has lost prestige in the world, and the way to restore it is to build up the defenses. That's the very simple answer to a very complex issue. Or we hear people say, let's not feed all the hungry people of the world. Let them die and it will solve the population problem. That's a very simple answer to world hunger. Or people say, capital punishment deters crime, or longer prison sentences. Put them in prison longer, kill off a few and that will deter crime. No study has shown that to be true. Let's illuminate it. Let’s raise all  the side issues and raise all the questions to bring everything up into the light so we can find solutions to these complex issues. 

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Let's bring warmth, brightness, healing and illumination to this world. There is a sheet in your bulletin today offering you one means by which you may let your light shine by being involved in the ministry of this church. Especially the nominating committee and other committees of the church are always trying to find people with interests and talents to utilize and mobilize into ministry. In these next few minutes, will you complete that sheet during the offertory. And when the ushers return from from the prayers at the altar, please pass your sheets to the aisle. 

Let your light shine.

© 1980 Douglas I. Norris