31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
September 25, 2022
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
“Of course, we will have night lights,” I said to quite a few concerned parents before their fourth, fifth, or sixth grader arrived for the week at Silver Lake Camp and Retreat Center this past summer.
For most of these kids, it was their first time being away from their families overnight. For the rest of us, it had been years since we had stayed in this particular building – so of course, we were going to have nightlights for safety reasons. And no matter what age we are, a little light in the darkness is always comforting.
In this time of constant change, when we are trying to figure out what our new normal will be, we could all use a little comfort, some light in the darkness. And while written two thousand years ago, this passage from John was written to us and for us: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Jesus is the light in the darkness. Jesus is comfort in the hard times. My cell phone case, a verse from the Bible book Philippians, says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
Those images may feel a bit abstract, a bit hard to connect with. How about friend? Later in the service, we will sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. I invite you to pause, close your eyes even and picture your best friend. What do you do together? How do you feel with your best friend?
I do the most ordinary things with my best friend – watch TV, shop, do yard work, and I also pour out all of the details of my life – messy and complicated and sometimes not all that interesting to anyone but me. I feel safe to share it all because I know that my best friend will listen attentively, will care, and will be there no matter what.
If we want it, that’s the relationship all of us can have with Jesus. In the ordinary moments, in the extraordinary moments, he is there. Listening. Comforting. Strengthening. Bringing light. Bringing hope. Hope that no matter what is going on in our lives or the world, we are not alone. We are loved and God is working for goodness and for justice in our world.
This is my greatest hope, my deepest prayer as a Christian, that I might share my friend Jesus with Caroline, with all of you, with everyone I meet so they and you might be strengthened when you feel weak, comforted in the challenging times, have hope that Jesus’ light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it. The darkness will never overcome you.
It is great comfort to me to have a friend like Jesus, and still, my relationship with Jesus is not just about comforting me. My relationship with Jesus connects me to his light, connects you to his light that we might be God’s light-bearers, sharing comfort, joy, and hope, especially hope with others.
As Christians, we are deeply comforted and strengthened by our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have hope that Jesus has brought other people through plagues and wars and natural disasters, addiction, depression and stress, and Jesus will carry us through, too.
And as Christians, we are entrusted with a sacred responsibility – to not keep that comfort and hope a secret. We are here to bring the light. We are here to go public. We are here to open up, inviting others to know our friend Jesus so they too can open up to God, our loving, generous, faithful God. We have been created and called to be Christ’s light in the darkness.
This is a sacred responsibility – to bring comfort, hope, and light into people’s lives. It does not have to be an overwhelming one though. Today, after worship, members of this Christian community are going to walk in Bristol’s Mum Parade. And as we walk with our multi-colored t-shirts and pass out rainbow heart stickers and cards that say, “God loves you”, we are walking with a purpose – to share God’s inclusive, extravagant love with all and to share Christ’s light, comfort and hope in these challenging times.
My colleague, the Rev. Melanie Enfield, is sharing Christ’s light with her new Youtube channel where she is sharing stories of hope and inspiration because as she says and I agree, there is a lot of good in the world. The first video is actually called “Hold Fast to the Good.”
Hold fast to the good. Share comfort and pass hope on, like the receptionist at my son’s pediatrician last week. I have no idea if this woman was a person of faith. I do not even know her name; however when I called last week because my son was going on day 8 of an illness that I just could not figure out what it was or how to treat, she clearly heard the confusion and frustration in my voice, and she not only offered me kindness; she offered me comfort; she offered me light.
As followers of Jesus, as those seeking a relationship, a friendship with Jesus, we know the comfort and joy of his presence in our lives. We know that regardless of how dark things look, his light shines in the darkness and will forever shine. What a blessing.
And as followers of Jesus, we know that we have been created, we have been called to be Christ’s light in the world. Sometimes, we are invited by God to walk with people in their darkness, to hold their hands and be present with them, offering silent comfort. Other times, we are invited to shine brightly, to highlight all of the good to be found in life and the world, to bless people with the gift of hope, hope for today, hope for tomorrow.
This little light of mine, this little light of yours, may you raise it high; may you share it generously; may you use it to bring strength, comfort, and hope to others that they might come to know the strength, comfort, and hope of a relationship with the God of love we know through our friend Jesus Christ.