Thursday, January 17, 2013

Night Lights

A recent trip to a hardware store made me aware of the wide variety of nightlights available. Frankly, the only innovation in nightlights from the nights of my childhood to the nights of my motherhood was the invention of the electric eye which would turn the nightlight on for you. These days there are nightlights licensed for every children's movie, cartoon character, and fairy-tale princess, along with artistic renderings that are truly lovely, as well as functional. It gave me a warm glow to think about the comfort of nightlights and the wonderful metaphor of Jesus coming into the world as light.

My first nightlight memory is from about age five when we had a nightlight in the bedroom- under-the-eaves that my sister and I shared. I would sometimes wake when my mom's shadow blocked it out as she came to take my little sister to the bathroom one more time before retiring. My mother's presence enhanced the safe feeling the nightlight created. I can also still picture the fuzzy glow from the bathroom across the hall from my next childhood bedroom. Faint, barely there, but enough light to reveal where you were; my sleepy eyes could take in the shape of the door set ajar and the light through the transom above. I could see that I was in my own bed, at home, or find my way across the hall in the dark.

There is no underestimating the power of light to comfort a child, or an adult for that matter.  In the church year, we are in the season of light. The season begins with the star that leads the Wisemen to the newborn Jesus, and ends with this same Jesus shining like the sun just before beginning a journey to the ultimate darkness of death. During this season you can find a gazillion ways to talk with your children about God. With a little imagination, you can use almost anything that gives light to start a conversation about faith. Here are a few ideas:

  • Light a candle at dinnertime and at the end of the meal, turn out the lights and have a brief prayer time.
  • Read a story by flashlight, under the covers.
  • Toast marshmallows in the fireplace and make s'mores indoors.
  • Take a late night drive away from the city lights, spread out a blanket, and stare at the stars.
  • Make a dessert you set on fire - like Bananas Foster
  • Count the lights, and the different kinds of lights, you see in church 

You probably won't ignite a big epiphany, but you can plant the idea that wherever there is light, God can be found. In the words of the old camp song, “it only takes a spark to get a fire going.” Ignite your child’s faith in small ways and time, prayer, and the Holy Spirit will fan the flames of faith.

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