I love watching fireworks on July 4 th ; however Wyatt, our dog, does not, but his wishes to forgo them fail every year. I remember taking Ella Mac, at two-years old, to see her first fireworks display in Alexandria, Virginia. We were worried that she might be scared of the darkness that preceded the fireworks, and then we worried that the bright lights and loudness of the fireworks may have an effect on her. Despite our anxieties, she did better than just fine – she loved it! What I remember most was watching her face light up between explosions. I am not sure which was more radiant that day – the fireworks that lit up the sky or her face that reflected shades of the red, white, and blue explosions above. The light illuminated the physical darkness around us while simultaneously dispelling the darkness of our anxieties. Light has that effect.
Universally, darkness and night are associated with evil and light and day are signs of goodness. In John’s gospel, one scene in particular gives plenty of credence to that symbolism. On the occasion of the Festival of Booths; which heavily ritualized the use of light, Jesus proclaimed, “ I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). Jesus puts action to his proclamation through a sign of healing: a man blind from birth is given sight.
The fact that Jesus’ light outshines the bright lights of the festival cannot be understated. The illuminated pathway of the Jesus way offers hope for each one of us. It creates healing, it offers hope, it creates a lasting joy. There is something contagious about the light of Jesus – it draws us, grows, and sends us out. That’s why Jesus, the light of the world, says in his sermon on the mount in Matthew’s gospel that WE are also the light of the world. His irresistible light awakens us to the work of God in our world. As we prepare to celebrate the freedom that our nation provides through fireworks, let us remember even more about the light of the world, Jesus, who illuminates our lives and calls us to shine our light as well.

Expecting His Best,

Stephen V. Allen