We heard the true teaching from God. Now we tell it to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness! – 1 John 1:5
Friday morning here in Wake Forest it’s 27-degrees, there’s a mixture of snow and sleet on the ground, we’re expecting a high of 30, and there’s more “wintery mix” on the way.
Downstairs there’s a fire roaring in the hearth, Scout Labradoodle is curled up on the couch, Rebekah has set up her office at the dining room table, and there’s a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen.
It’s winter at Maul-Hall, and all is well.
WHAT KEEPS YOUR HEART WARM? It makes me think – all this talk of warmth and snuggle-up-ness – about the first ever question I asked in my first ever small group meeting after I completed my training somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-five years ago.
We were using Stephen Ministry’s “ChristCare” model, and the first question in the first session of the “Introduction to small-groups” module went something like this: “When you were a child, what provided warmth in your home?”
I still remember most of the answers. They ran the gamut, from “Cast-iron hot-water radiators; they warmed up a space from zero to six inches around them!” to “My dad always built a roaring wood fire. We’d gather around as a family, play games, sip hot-chocolate, and stay toasty together.”
Then there was the person who said, “There was no warmth in our house. My dad sucked the life and the warmth out of a room the moment he entered it; mom tried to thaw things out when she could, but it cost her too much so she eventually gave up.”
LOVE: It sounds like a cliché, but clichés only become clichés because they tend to be true; love is the only reliable source of warmth available, and it works regardless of the physical circumstances we find ourselves in.
Scientifically, this makes all sorts of sense. If God is love, purity, and light, then love has the same source as every kelvin of thermodynamic energy, every lumen of light, every flame that is kindled on Earth. God’s will brought light into being, and all energy on earth emanates from the sun God created to fuel our planet. Jesus is light, life, and love personified. God gifts us, in Jesus and through the work of the Holy Spirit, with our own love and light generator. In other words, because of Jesus we always have access to the answer to the question, “What provides warmth in your home?”
SO WHAT? Consequently, I’m thinking about the energy crisis that is all too pervasive in 21st-Century life. Fossil fuel? Nuclear power? Renewable resources? Alternative energy? No; these are all important conversations, but they pale in comparison to the real energy crisis, and it’s one with the most elegant of available solutions.
I’m talking about the simple opportunity for regeneration. Christmas is still pretty much in our rear-view mirror, so quoting a carol is appropriate:
Hail, the heaven born Prince of Peace
Hail, the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings.
“Light and life to all he brings” – Wow! What a great concept. What a powerful image to hold on a cold winter’s day. What a challenge to accept such a gift; not just to accept it, but to live into it as if we really believed!
Here are a few more verses from the 1 John 1 passage. I challenge you to read these out loud and then not be excited about what it means to be regenerated as a being of light – I don’t believe you could!
We want to tell you about the Word that gives life—the one who existed before the world began. This is the one we have heard and have seen with our own eyes. We saw what he did, and our hands touched him. Yes, the one who is life was shown to us. We saw him, and so we can tell others about him. We now tell you about him. He is the eternal life that was with God the Father and was shown to us. We are telling you about what we have seen and heard because we want you to have fellowship with us. The fellowship we share together is with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. We write these things to you so that you can be full of joy with us. We heard the true teaching from God. Now we tell it to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness. – 1 John 1:1-5