Sermoncitos, a family tradition
LIGHT in the Longest, Darkest Night
How dark and gloomy it is in the north part of the country this time of year! The days are short and the nights, oh, so long and dreary. It brings to mind the many passages of scripture that speak of LIGHT.
To start with, let’s see what our Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley said about the subject. “People sometimes ask me, ‘what is your favorite verse of scripture?’ I tell them that I have many, but among these is one for which I feel a particular love. It is found in the fiftieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants and reads as follows: ‘And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is LIGHT…. (D&C 50:23-24). I ask you to ponder [these] words: ‘That which is of God is LIGHT; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.’ For me, in those few words there is encompassed the marvelous concept of the eternal plan of God in behalf of His sons and daughters whom He loves. That statement speaks of learning. It speaks of the now and the forever. It speaks of growth and development. It is positive and affirmative and wonderful…’The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth’ (D&C 93:36).”
This light that he speaks of is the light that comes from Jesus Christ. It is enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence. It belongs in some degree to each person born to this earth, but we can increase it, make it brighter as we desire. How? Through daily prayer, repentance, scripture study, keeping covenants, having faith in Christ and in listening and obeying Him and our church leaders.
It comes to us by serving others and by setting a good example. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16. The LIGHT is a spiritual gift, but it is also a physical thing that can be seen in the faces of those who are educated and good.
As we prepare and follow the Savior, we might be like the Brother of Jared in the book of Ether (Ether 2-3). He prepared the glass stones for the Lord to touch. They gave unfaltering light through the long, dark, stormy voyage to the place of peace and safety for himself and his people. We, in a similar manner, are also not left alone in darkness, but are ‘touched’ by the finger of Jesus Christ who is the source of all light and truth and life. “…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“Cling to the Church. If you will do so it will become as an anchor in the midst of a stormy sea. It will be a LIGHT to your lives….” Gordon B. Hinckley
As the physical darkness descends upon us each winter afternoon, we are prepared to face it by flipping on an electric light switch or lighting a cheery candle. So, also, when the darkness of life descends upon us, we will be prepared to face it, having our light souce ready in place by our individual spiritual preparation. “…Let us walk in the LIGHT of the Lord” (Isaiah 2:5).
* (emphasis to words added)
Come to the Light
Last night we spent considerable time trying to help a bird escape from the house. I turned on all the lights, turned off the ceiling fans, and tried to shepherd him toward the outside door. He flitted from room to room, perching periodically on high cupboards. I found that if I turned off the light in a room, he would avoid that room, so I eventually had only one light, but he hovered high. I could not get him to look just a few inches lower at the open door. I tried one last strategy. I turned off all the interior lights. He instantly found the way and flew toward the light on the porch. I could not make him get on the safe path, but I could provide a light that he could choose to follow. Isaiah explained the principle like this: “the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2). Jesus clarified this by declaring, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness”.
The value of coming to the light is clear, “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). But remember the little bird, we cannot make anyone choose the best path in life, and showing the way takes effort and thought. Our children need our best effort to help them find the path, though the choice must be theirs. The organizations and teachings of the church are vital to showing light to attract them, but it all begins with the parents (1 Nephi 5:1). Fathers love and teach their children, even their adult children (Exodus 18:4-8). A father does this by living the Gospel as an example to his children (1 Nephi 16:8).
A father can share inspiration and spiritual knowledge with children by direct teaching, but even better by example (1 Nephi 15): “...he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:21). Speaking of those who have found the path, Jesus told His followers, “ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). We let our light shine before the world with our good works. We shine the light for our children as we lead by example.
As I sang to calm little Lily last week, I saw her eyes turn toward the light and I remembered a song I wrote for Heather in 1971: “Baby’s eyes are small and weak. Even their mother they don’t recognize. But darkness from day my baby can tell. Oh, that I could see that well. In the day my baby’s eyes turn, turn toward light coming in the window. But I many times, even in the daylight, darkness do choose over light.” The principle of light applies to even the smallest.
On June 14, 1777, Congress adopted a national flag that would become an ensign that people could follow. As it is the natural tendency of man to impose what seems to be good on everyone, a course correction had to be made in favor of correct principles. On June 14, 1943 the Supreme Court explained that the Constitution does not allow the government to force people to salute or pledge allegiance to the flag. This year as Flag Day falls on Father’s Day, we should remember the principle of light. Raise the banner, turn on the light, and they will come to the safe path, “the light of the glory of God, the marvelous light of His goodness” (Alma 19:6).