Sunday 4 October
Ephesians chapter 5 verses 8–20
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Message: - The transition from dark to light.
If we are made in the image of God, if he is the Light of the World, we should be people of light, should we not?
Then, when I think about what brightens our day I think of love and fellowship, denied us these past six months or so, to a lesser or greater extent. I then get a glimpse of being a people living in darkness.
I could, if I put my mind to it, think of other reasons to consider this to be a world of darkness. I would rather try to focus on the love shown to us in Jesus as my focus and on that love in me that I hold towards others and use it to wish, or to pray the best for them. I also think of humour. There is something fantastic and therapeutic about a good belly laugh. And for that matter a good cry can be liberating too.
God made us to feel and not just the sense of touch, but the touch of the heart, one for each other, too. Those same feelings God shows us in the Prodigal Son story when he embarrasses himself running to get to his son.
When I then think of where I can get a sense of who and whose I am and look to the Bible, I remember some advice from one of the sessions on the Alpha Course. “We shouldn’t just cherry-pick a verse at random from the bible”. Here in our reading today is a good example. Verse 18 says, 'Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…… Would that be whiskey or vodka?
We obviously need to read verses in context if we are to get the correct message. Then we can see the passage obviously refers us to the Holy Spirit. For the person who picks up a bible for the first time, who knows what they will read into the contents. Without some form of guidance, both they, and we too, can get the wrong understanding out of God’s word. I hope, as you reflect on that, you get a better understanding of why getting together with people you trust and respect for bible study is a good thing.
In our reading this morning God is telling us that we live in a dark and evil world that would drag us this way or push us that way. God however wants us to follow the good way. To live in the light.
A recent example of the things that can happen behind a cloak of darkness is a recent article I saw about changes, in UK Law. 'The Police Professional', their in-house publication, carried an article about The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill, which had its first reading in Parliament last Thursday (September 24). This Act protects operatives from prosecution if they are forced to break the law. We might choose to understand that the operatives need to blend into the life their undercover position requires. But apparently it is to include murder! Can that ever be legal I ask you? It may not be passed, I don’t know but if it is, it is a good example of how things can be done in darkness.
If I then turn my attention to the advice to avoid getting drunk in verse 18, this is a very personal one for me. I became allergic to alcohol a number of years ago. Before I answered the call into ministry, I was a typical social drinker who seldom got drunk and hangovers were very few and far between, but not unknown, especially when I was a good bit younger. Then, I started to take almost instant hangovers to even a mouthful of alcoholic drink, first with beer then with wine too! Now I never touch the stuff. I even took a hangover to the alcohol in Tiramisu on one occasion. The hangovers, make even a mouthful of wine or beer pointless. Life without alcohol, it turns out, suits me. I get to see things more clearly, like the friends enjoying the glass of wine that the reading warns us of and becoming a bit more relaxed, let’s call it.
I can assure you that being filled with the spirit is more fun. The Holy Spirit that is, but I am sure you knew that was what I meant.
I wonder if many people would claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit and yet that is the goal is it not, to be filled afresh with the spirit. Our cup is to be filled to the brim, pressed down and overflowing in the power of the spirit. The only advice I can give is to remind you that the bible is your love letter from God. All of creation was made, if you will allow me the license to use the term, as your personal playground. That love letter tells us the Good Shepherd left his flock to come and find you. Our response to Jesus in accepting His gift of salvation is only a part of the story. Allowing the Holy Spirit into our hearts is the other part. If you have yet to invite the Holy Spirit into your heart, all you need to do is ask! Place your trust in the Lord and invite him into your life by His Spirit. Then, like those of us who already have, we All need to ask for that fresh infilling every day. Because that is how we can be “all goodness, righteousness and truth” as we are encouraged to be in verse 9.
Can I just finish on this thought? Unless a light strikes an object, whether a particle of gas, a drop of liquid or any object, then the light isn’t visible. When it strikes the object all the energy frequencies that make up the light get scattered or refracted to use the scientific term, and we can see some of the colours of the rainbow. When a prism perfectly captures and then refracts the light, we get to see every colour in the rainbow. God is the light of the World; we are the be the object he shines upon and the Holy Spirit in us is the prism that makes the whole perfect. That way, flawed though we are, the perfection of the prism is what shows off the rainbow. That is what others will get to see. Not you and I, that would be arrogance! But the Light of the World himself. Painted in resplendent glory.
As it always should be. Amen