Warm-up Question

When were you ever afraid of the dark?

Let There Be Light

A 31 year-old physicist at MIT, Jeremy England, has been mixing things up a bit in the world of physics and the question of the origin of life, as we know it, here on earth (and perhaps existing elsewhere). The Big Bang followed by primordial ooze giving birth to life is not enough for the young physicist. According to England, there are even more fundamental laws of nature at work. His premise is that where there is energy (as in the form of light) and conditions for heat to be released, the inanimate can become animate. The physics world is divided and still debating his theory. If proven to have merit and accepted it could change how we talk about the origins of life. As England suggests, “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine light on it for long enough, it should not be so surprising that you get a plant.”

Discussion Questions

  • How does the sun feel on your skin or face?
  • When do you most like being in the sun?
  • When have you noticed the life-giving effects of sunlight?
  • How do you feel during this ‘darker’ time of the year with less hours of sunlight each day?

Second Sunday of Christmas

Jeremiah 31:7-14

Ephesians 1:3-14

John 1:[1-9]10-18

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

The eternal Word of God, Jesus Christ, is what this introduction to John’s Gospel is about. These verses right at the beginning are a philosophical-theological explanation of who Jesus is. God’s word that creates, becomes flesh – a real human being, and is light. Just like the first thing that God creates in Genesis, “let there be light.” And after there’s light, then things can begin to take shape in the midst of the chaotic stuff that was “without form and was void”. A new creation is taking place. A divine word that is a light for humanity has come. “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1: 3b-5) Light is life. The new light of Jesus brings life to the dark corners of our world and of our daily existence.

The gospel writer, John, says that the darkness did not ‘overcome’ it. The original word in Greek (“katalaben”) can mean “to take hold of,” “seize,” “comprehend,” or “understand.” So this Jesus-light shines in the darkness and the darkness can’t cover him up and make him go away and the darkness can’t get a hold of the Jesus-light. It doesn’t understand it.

Jesus gives life and somehow that is hard to understand. The creator becomes a part of the creation. The same God that says, “let there be light,” comes to the dark corners of the world to shine into the darkness. Wherever the light of Jesus Christ shines, there you will find life. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:12). As God’s children, the ones who have received the light, we have the opportunity to point to the same light of Christ as John the Baptist does. Where we see darkness, we can shine the Jesus-light of love to dispel it.

Discussion Questions

  • Even though we know the light of Jesus Christ, when do you still experience moments of “darkness”?
  • What are ways the light of Jesus Christ can dispel the “darkness” in our lives and the lives around us?
  • In what ways can we increase or intensify the light of Jesus?
  • What would you call darkness in the world?

Activity Suggestions

Candle in the darkness: Take one candle and the participants into a dark place in the church (some room somewhere where light can be kept out). See how one small candle can illumine the whole room. Read the Gospel lesson again.

Closing Prayer

God who is the creative Word, you have so often come to us in the dark moments in our lives. Send the loving light of your son, Jesus Christ, to us now. Enlighten our darkness now and send us out to be your children, children of your divine light. We pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen