Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

Feb 28, 2016 Sermon

“I AM the Light of the World”
John 7:2, 14 – 18, 8:12
Ted Jansen  February 28, 2016  Waynedale UMC
1.)        Faith is having confidence and assurance that you are not alone as you take your next step on your journey.  You might be surrounded by darkness but faith is like a flashlight that gives you enough light to see what is one step ahead of you.  In the middle of a sunshine filled day a flashlight is not needed.  You have plenty of light.  A flashlight helps you see your next step when their no light on your path.    
            How has the Lord allowed you to experience faith in your life?  Has God given you the sunshine of the day, or has God given you a flashlight to see the next step while you were walking slowly with darkness around you? 
2.)        I liked to lead youth groups on night hikes into the woods.  I would tell them to “follow me” and they would walk out of the cabin into the night.  They would often stumble and laugh and be nervous about the hike.  They would ask me where I was going and I often would be silent and keep walking. 
I would then stop at some place and read the words that we are focusing on.   Before I read the words I would light a small candle and read these words.  “Jesus said, I AM the light of the world.”     
We would talk about the importance of the light and to be careful who they were following in their lives.  With that one candle in the midst of the darkness we would read some other verses about the light.  Then after a few minutes we walked back to the cabin and I had more candles for them if they wanted them.    
3.)        When the Israelites left Egypt they were in the wilderness.  It was dark in the wilderness and Moses was leading them.  It was a place where they were vulnerable.  God, through Moses and the others, were leading each step of their lives. 
They had a confidence that God was with them most of the time.  We read that at times they got impatient and decided to create their own gods, like the golden calf they created.  God had given them lots of instructions on the commandments, laws, the tent of the meeting, sacrifices, feasts, and how to live as a people of God
God was present with them in the cloud that was over the tabernacle during the day.  At night there was fire, light, in the cloud that all the people could see.  (Exodus 40:38)  As the people took each step on their journey in the wilderness they had the assurance and confidence that the Lord, as the light was with them.     
4.)        One of the Feasts that God commanded the Jewish people to remember from this time of wandering in the wilderness was the Feast of the Tabernacle.  This feast required them to build or erect small booths, or shelters, to remind them of the time when they lived in the wilderness.  They were to realize that their life was not permanent, they were pilgrims on the way.
As a part of this feast they were to remember God was with them and bring in light.  At the beginning of the Feast of the Tabernacles the tradition was that people would all bring torches to the courtyard of the temple and the whole city would be filled with light.  This was the night of the Grand Illumination.  It was a time of great celebration and music.     
5.)        When all the courtyard was filled with light and it was said that from all over Jerusalem you could see the light Jesus spoke.   Jesus said, “I AM the light of the world.”    He told the people listening that whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. 
            We get a sense, on this night of the Grand Illumination, that Jesus was speaking and claiming His life as a light for all people.  We understand the power and significance of Jesus telling us that I AM as He connects an image, at a time in the life of the Jews, to His life.    
            You might understand why the religious leaders were upset with Jesus when He spoke these words.  He was referring to “I AM” and drawing people toward His life as the light of the world.  Jesus claimed to be the I AM and instead of drawing attention to the Temple and God’s light in the past Jesus wants the people to be drawn to Him today.    
6.)        One way of understanding Jesus and His words about the light is to see the relationship with darkness.   You don’t need light if you don’t have darkness.  In the middle of a bright sunny day you don’t need a flashlight.  In the middle of the night you need light.     
            Can you think of times in scripture when the night was covering life and people?    
            When Jesus was being crucified, there was darkness for three hours, when normally the sun would be shining bright.  Light shines in the darkness.    
            Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, came to Jesus to inquire about his life and teaching.  He came at night.   He did not come in the middle of the day.   
            Peter denied Jesus three times.  It was at night when Peter allowed his spirit to be crushed and crumble.    
7.)        I lit this candle, a symbol of Christ, at the beginning of the service and wonder how many of you noticed it?   When we turn out lights you see it.  It is more noticeable because of the contrast in life.    
            How many of you were here on Jan 10, when the power went out in most of the building for several hours?  We had to huddle close, light as many candles as possible, use battery powered lights for music and preaching.  We had very little light.  But the light that we had was enough to provide us with a time of worship of Christ.    
8.)        Each of us go through times of darkness in our lives.  There are times when situations happen to us that are out of our control that put us in darkness.  There are times when we make choices that are not good and we suffer in the darkness the consequences of our choices. 
Paul talks to the church in Galatia about areas of darkness, or sin, which are a part of our lives.  He says that each of us have our areas of sin and selfishness.  It is like trying to hide in the darkness and not let the light find us. 
We have pride, envy, lust, greed, malice, sexual immorality, and others that Paul mentions in the letter to the Galatians.  (Galatians 5:19 – 21) 
            When we act in these ways and have these attitudes we do not want the light to shine on us.  When the light shines we are ashamed, guilty, embarrassed and angry at ourselves for doing these things and having these attitudes. 
            Light will shine and we will look closer at the source of light, the light of the world, Jesus Christ, who died on a cross for my sin.  Jesus, as the Light can remove my deeds and me from darkness.  This is Great News for my soul.     
9.)        When in Israel the first morning we saw the light of the sunshine.  The picture on your bulletin is of a sunrise over Galilee.  There is something about the light in each new day that gives us hope, joy and grace.      
            We also had a chance, when we were on a hillside overlooking Galilee, to listen to Jesus’ words when He said, “you are the light of the world.”  He also mentioned that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Our guide pointed to us that the ancient city of Hippos was a city on top of the mountains to the east of Galilee.  This most likely was what Jesus was referring to when he talked about a city on hill.  The people and their lights could be seen because they were the highest point.  It was amazing to consider and think about seeing the area of the city and realize that their light would be seen.     
10.)      I had an experience when I felt darkness in my soul.  I was in the DeKalb County Courthouse with a person who was going before the Judge.    
            I felt like I was in a dark, dark place in my soul.  It was a Friday and I had told no one where I would be on that morning.  I sat there not knowing what would happen, what we would see, what would happen and what this all meant.  I felt like I was in a dark room, a place where darkness was strong.   
11.)      Then light, God’s light, began to shine to me in the dark place.  I saw a woman who was a member of the church working there as a clerk for the judge.  Then I saw another woman, a member of the church, who had been in a Bible Study with Sue, working as a probation officer.  Then I saw the prosecuting attorney, another member of the church, a former Sunday School teacher, doing her job.  They were there working in the courtroom, but when I saw them it was like light came into my darkness.   
            I found out a few days later that a woman from the church, who had no idea what I was doing on that Friday morning, was led to pray for me.  She was in awe when I told her how much I needed those prayers at that particular time.  I thanked her for praying and for listening to God.  She allowed my darkness to be chased away by the light of God. 
Each of these women were shining the Jesus, who said, I AM the light of the world.   
12.)      I heard another story of the light when a the mother of a good friend was waiting in a doctor’s office.  She had just moved to Fort Wayne from another state and was alone as she was going to get a biopsy done. 
            She shared with the nurse that was with her that she wished she could be back home because she would have her Sunday School class pray for her.  She felt alone and scared. 
            The woman nurse told her, I am a Christian, and I can pray for you.  So she did. 
            Can you imagine the light that would have shone upon the path of our friends mother in this time of need?  Jesus said, “I AM the light of the world!”
13.)      We see light when we live in the darkness.  Someone is here and they are in darkness. You are struggling to see hope, grace, joy, peace, forgiveness, love.   It feels like you are all alone.  
            I want you to look up and hear Jesus say, “I AM the light of the world.”   You are not alone.   Jesus Christ is your light, your love, your friend, your salvation, your guide, your Lord.             
            I invite you to take a candle and let your life be re-ignited with His presence.  Someone here needs the assurance that in dark places Christ goes there with us.  Come and let the Light of the World bring light to your life.  Light your candle with Christ.  Take the candle home.  I also have some prayers that you can take home and pray that focus on the light of Christ.            
Prayer for Light in our Hearts
          God, our Father, hear our prayer and let the radiance of your love scatter the gloom of our hearts. The light of heaven's love has restored us to life - free us from the desires that belong to darkness.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN
Prayer for the Light of Resurrection
Lord, free us from the dark night of death.  Let the light of resurrection dawn within our hearts to bring us to the radiance of eternal life.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.
Prayer for the Radiance of Your Light
Lord, as a new day dawns, send the radiance of your light to shine in our hearts.  Make us true to your teaching; keep us free from error and sin.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN.
Prayer for True Light
All powerful and ever-living God, splendor of true light, and never ending day, let the radiance of your coming banish from our minds the darkness of sin.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN
Prayer to Follow the Light
God our Savior, help us to follow the light and live the truth. In you, we have been born again as sons and daughters of light.  May we be your witnesses before all the world.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN
Prayer to Live in the Light
Lord, true light and source of all light, listen to our morning prayer.  Turn our thoughts to what is holy and may we ever live in the light of your love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. AMEN