Harvesters of Light

I’m in the midst of bringing my studies in Acts to a completion, and this last section, when Paul’s life shines so brightly, seems especially appropriate this time of year.  It’s the time of year when, especially up north, the light drops lower into the sky and the shadows are long.  Leaves have blown away and naked branches shake.  And here in raincity  we’ve the added beauty of clouds creating interplays of light and shadow in an infinite array of patterns.  It’s a remarkable time of year, a time when darkness and light seem to be at war.

Thankfully, we live with the confidence that in just a few short weeks the darkness, which has seemingly been getting the upper hand, will turn once again enter its annual season of defeat as light inevitably triumphs.  For some of us, the season is the most beautiful of all, not because we like the darkness so much, but because the darkness makes the little shards of light all the more poignant and powerful.  A single candle in my home office at 6:00PM in March?  Meaningless.  On November 17th?  Priceless.

If ours is an age of darkness, then, I’ll go on record as saying that it’s a great time be children of light, because the whole light and dark thing works, not only in the physical world, but in matters of the heart and spirit as well.  Ours has been described by many voices as a ‘new dark age‘.  The signs of darkness are seen more by absence than presence:  absence of initmacy, meaning, hope, beauty, love, trust, hope, integrity.  Evidences of the absence aren’t hard to find, whether one looks to our current wars and the pathologies that caused them, our current economic crises and the greed that got us there, or the crises within the many systems that are supposed undergird and sustain civilization, such as education, family, and the arts.  It’s a mess of darkness, no doubt, as someone else mused here.

Why the hope then?  Two reasons:  First, just like any autumn, the darkness creates both a longing for, and an awareness of the light. “The People who are Walking in Darkness have seen a Great Light” said the prophet, and God knows that the darkness is here now.  In a world of fanatic suicide bombers, terrorism, and militarism, acts of peace and love still happen, and they shine all the brighter for the context in which they appear.  Generosity shines in the midst of obscene greed.  Love for the least of these shines in the midst of a culture that worships youth and beauty.  It’s time to quit moaning about the darkness, and recognize these days for what they are:  moments when our calling as children of the light will stand out in stark contrast.

When people who are longing for light see light, they’ll turn to the light.  Thus we’d better not simply let our light shine, we’d better prepare to love and serve those who turn to the light in these days, and I’ve a feeling the harvest is just getting started.  Prepare?  Yes.  They’ll need places to sit in our churches, compelling worship they can understand, the Bible taught in terms that are simple, accessible, and applicable.  They’ll need to learn how to take up their own calling as harvesters of light, so that they can share let theirs shine too, in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and wherever the Light sends them.

I’m hopeful for a second reason:  We believe that Light will triumph.  I’m looking out my office window right now as I write this in the late afternoon.   The darkness is winning, and will reign for about the next 15 hours; by December 21 it will reign for about 16 hours each night.  But then the light will triumph, the days inexorably lengthening as we who live here collectively lift our spirits, or feel them being lifted by the light.  This is the way it is.  This is the way it shall be.  Light will triumph fully, finally, over the darkness, as we read here.

Our calling, as I’ll share on Sunday, is rooted in our identity as ‘harvesters of light’, those who receive the harvest of light and hope that is found in Christ, so that we might share it during times of light famine.  I think about this calling every November.  I ask Christ that, rather than cursing the darkness with whining, bitterness, fear and paralysis of soul, I’ll be light, or at least light a candle of hope through my words and deeds, so that the light of Christ, which our world is longing for more than they know, might see; and turn; and live.  May this be our prayer…

What are some signs of light you’re seeing in the midst of these dark days?

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Kevin

    I have lately seen a flash of brilliance: Christians, Jews, and Muslims joining together as people united in Love. Each called forth by the conviction the promise of God’s radical and transformative love for humanity, these three faiths which have historically been at odds are becoming the seedbed for new life. This is a light, though, that I am afraid many would call a sign of the growing darkness.

  • Kevin

    I have lately seen a flash of brilliance: Christians, Jews, and Muslims joining together as people united in Love. Each called forth by the conviction the promise of God’s radical and transformative love for humanity, these three faiths which have historically been at odds are becoming the seedbed for new life. This is a light, though, that I am afraid many would call a sign of the growing darkness.

  • Becca

    The light turns December 21st and yet it seems the months of January, February, and even March are the longest and darkest of the year. This time of year we can still remember the light. In the coming months it is easy to forget and wonder if the light, the sun (especially in Seattle) will ever return. It always does. Coming out of the darkness always seems longer and harder than heading in.

  • Becca

    The light turns December 21st and yet it seems the months of January, February, and even March are the longest and darkest of the year. This time of year we can still remember the light. In the coming months it is easy to forget and wonder if the light, the sun (especially in Seattle) will ever return. It always does. Coming out of the darkness always seems longer and harder than heading in.

  • truthdivide

    Richard,

    Here’s one stream of light, shining like the sun, from one respected “secular” source in the great state of South Carolina, one of their local newspapers.

    All content below this line quoted from my hyper-linked source:

    …the prosperity gospel has been the subject of cover stories in national magazines, theological conferences and Grassley’s Senate inquiry. Rev. Michael Horton, a California theology professor who edited “Agony of Deceit,” a book that examines the claims of fundraising televangelists, said such appeals lead to “a kind of Ponzi scheme.”

    “Certainly it works out very well for whoever’s at the top,” he said.

    ….One former Inspiration employee, who asked not to be named, said many of the network’s donors were elderly people of limited means who hoped that giving to the network would help them “turn their own situations around.”

    She said she valued the network’s mission of saving souls, but was troubled by the growing number of on-air promises that God would bring good things to donors.

    “That teaches people that the things of God are for sale,” she said. “I just have a problem with that. That stuff’s not for sale.”

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/408/story/741812.html

  • truthdivide

    Richard,

    Here’s one stream of light, shining like the sun, from one respected “secular” source in the great state of South Carolina, one of their local newspapers.

    All content below this line quoted from my hyper-linked source:

    …the prosperity gospel has been the subject of cover stories in national magazines, theological conferences and Grassley’s Senate inquiry. Rev. Michael Horton, a California theology professor who edited “Agony of Deceit,” a book that examines the claims of fundraising televangelists, said such appeals lead to “a kind of Ponzi scheme.”

    “Certainly it works out very well for whoever’s at the top,” he said.

    ….One former Inspiration employee, who asked not to be named, said many of the network’s donors were elderly people of limited means who hoped that giving to the network would help them “turn their own situations around.”

    She said she valued the network’s mission of saving souls, but was troubled by the growing number of on-air promises that God would bring good things to donors.

    “That teaches people that the things of God are for sale,” she said. “I just have a problem with that. That stuff’s not for sale.”

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/408/story/741812.html

  • http://cravesomethingmore.org Chris Tomlinson

    Richard,

    Loved the posting–thanks for bringing so much context to the picture of our being lights in the world. I like the imagery of light harvesters. I’ve thought of our being wicks that must draw near the flame of Christ to burn; I think light harvesting means staying close so we can stay lit.

    I hate to be the guy that comes on and pimps his blog, but it’s just an interesting time as I recently put out thoughts on being light (http://cravesomethingmore.org/2009/11/09/free-chapter-download-and-video-light/). If you have the time, I’d be interested in your perspective given your recent study.

    Enjoy preaching this weekend…

  • http://cravesomethingmore.org Chris Tomlinson

    Richard,

    Loved the posting–thanks for bringing so much context to the picture of our being lights in the world. I like the imagery of light harvesters. I’ve thought of our being wicks that must draw near the flame of Christ to burn; I think light harvesting means staying close so we can stay lit.

    I hate to be the guy that comes on and pimps his blog, but it’s just an interesting time as I recently put out thoughts on being light (http://cravesomethingmore.org/2009/11/09/free-chapter-download-and-video-light/). If you have the time, I’d be interested in your perspective given your recent study.

    Enjoy preaching this weekend…

  • Susan

    There are students who are here at SPU who have overcome unbelievable obstacles to get here – abuse, violence, poverty, parents in prison, making their way own their own through a very dark world to get to college. Some have turned down full scholarships to state universities because they want to be in a place where their faith is shared and nurtured.

    They shine as lights and for those of us privileged to hear their stories, the light is almost blinding. Thanks be to God.

  • Susan

    There are students who are here at SPU who have overcome unbelievable obstacles to get here – abuse, violence, poverty, parents in prison, making their way own their own through a very dark world to get to college. Some have turned down full scholarships to state universities because they want to be in a place where their faith is shared and nurtured.

    They shine as lights and for those of us privileged to hear their stories, the light is almost blinding. Thanks be to God.

  • G.

    richard, have you heard this song? Light breaking through darkness…

  • G.

    richard, have you heard this song? Light breaking through darkness…

  • http://www.ChristianHaiku.com Christian Haiku

    Darkness increasing
    But light will overcome it
    Shine Children of Light
    Eph 5:8, John 16:33, 1 John 4:3-4, Rom 13:12, Psalm 139:12, Prov 13:9, Isa 60:19, Matt 5:15-16, Luke 11:35-36, John 1:5, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 5:13-14, Rev 21:23

    What a wonderful, hopeful and inspiring post, thank you! Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    “Well done” in this regard! I read this to my 10-yr old son at breakfast this morning. While he may not fully grasp it yet, the spiritual battle you’ve written about really is the backdrop to his life, as I perceive it anyway. So thanks again, for helping me equip him to live it out.

    I am going to post the haiku above with credit and link to your article as my inspiration. Hope that’s OK. :)

    Blessings,

    Clark Osborn
    http://ChristianHaiku.com
    http://Twitter.com/ChristianHaiku

  • http://www.ChristianHaiku.com Christian Haiku

    Darkness increasing
    But light will overcome it
    Shine Children of Light
    Eph 5:8, John 16:33, 1 John 4:3-4, Rom 13:12, Psalm 139:12, Prov 13:9, Isa 60:19, Matt 5:15-16, Luke 11:35-36, John 1:5, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 5:13-14, Rev 21:23

    What a wonderful, hopeful and inspiring post, thank you! Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    “Well done” in this regard! I read this to my 10-yr old son at breakfast this morning. While he may not fully grasp it yet, the spiritual battle you’ve written about really is the backdrop to his life, as I perceive it anyway. So thanks again, for helping me equip him to live it out.

    I am going to post the haiku above with credit and link to your article as my inspiration. Hope that’s OK. :)

    Blessings,

    Clark Osborn
    http://ChristianHaiku.com
    http://Twitter.com/ChristianHaiku

  • http://heritageofgrace.blogspot.com Rochelle

    As I look out the window to the distance, all I can see if white the fog is thick. Yet yesterday I had a view for miles of those beautiful snow toped peaks. But they are still there, I know they are there if I can see them or not. Why does God test out faith like this, sometimes I feel He sets a fog up in front of Him and I can’t see the hand in front of me, yet He was there before and I know He is there still regardless of my vision. Oh how we wait for the sun to return.
    Though I was reading in RainCity Pastor and in the article he linked to about another dark age coming, as with the fall of Rome many things were forgotten including technologies of all kinds but other things also. If we are in the fog long, how long will it take to forget what the view for miles and the mountains looked like? I fear we soon forget, and being in Seattle were the winters are often dark I think we are often surprised by the Spring having almost forgotten that it was like.
    “Lord, thank you for your Word and help us to always look to it as a reminder of Your promises to us and what we are looking toward. Help us to never forget. If we are going into the winter of days may we always remember the light on the mountains and the beautiful view we once enjoyed and will enjoy again.”

  • http://heritageofgrace.blogspot.com Rochelle

    As I look out the window to the distance, all I can see if white the fog is thick. Yet yesterday I had a view for miles of those beautiful snow toped peaks. But they are still there, I know they are there if I can see them or not. Why does God test out faith like this, sometimes I feel He sets a fog up in front of Him and I can’t see the hand in front of me, yet He was there before and I know He is there still regardless of my vision. Oh how we wait for the sun to return.
    Though I was reading in RainCity Pastor and in the article he linked to about another dark age coming, as with the fall of Rome many things were forgotten including technologies of all kinds but other things also. If we are in the fog long, how long will it take to forget what the view for miles and the mountains looked like? I fear we soon forget, and being in Seattle were the winters are often dark I think we are often surprised by the Spring having almost forgotten that it was like.
    “Lord, thank you for your Word and help us to always look to it as a reminder of Your promises to us and what we are looking toward. Help us to never forget. If we are going into the winter of days may we always remember the light on the mountains and the beautiful view we once enjoyed and will enjoy again.”


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