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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sermon: Light That Makes Life Better

by Interim Pastor Hollie Holt-Woehl

The Epiphany of Our Lord, 2010

During the long winter days when the darkness surrounds us more than light, many people suffer from a lack of sunlight. There is a name for this disorder, it is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or known by its acronym SAD (which appropriately enough sounded out is sad).
Seasonal affective disorder “is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year.”
Generally it appears late fall or early winter and go away in spring or summer.

The causes for SAD are unknown and as with any disorder there are a multitude of factors which go into play like genetics, age, and your bodies chemical makeup. According to the Mayo Clinic a few specific factors that may come into play include:

Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body's internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin, perhaps leading to depression.
Treatment of SAD includes, light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy. Light therapy has been effective for many who have SAD. It involves sitting in front of a special broad spectrum light for a certain amount of time daily. There are many companies who have gotten in to the business of making lights for this disorder there is one company which has as its motto “Light That Makes Life Better.”

SAD is a physical disorder in which light offers help in healing. As we celebrate Epiphany today, a day in which we talk about the Light of Christ entering the world, I see that not only do our physical bodies need light from the sun but spiritually we need light from Jesus Christ to offer help in healing our spiritual break from God. Jesus Christ is the Light that makes life better.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

This light of Christ is not meant for us to hold on too and keep for ourselves. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” This is the only I AM saying of Jesus in which we participate.

The light of Christ not only heals us but as we walk in the light of Christ we show the light of Christ. It becomes reflexive, automatic, we don’t even know we are being lights.

One woman who lived in the slums of London became a follower of Jesus and was filled with joy and love. She went back to her street and saw evil and darkness around her. She wanted to move away. Her pastor asked her what would happen if the city decided to take out all the street lights and put them in the well to do neighborhoods. She saw the point and decided to stay. After some time had passed, the pastor asked the woman how things were going. With a smile she answered “Oh, very nicely; and there is another light in the street now.”

Jesus Christ is the Light that makes life better.

I close with a Poem by Annie Johnson Flint called “For Dark Places”

His lamp am I,
To shine where His shall say:
And lamps are not for sunny rooms,
Nor for the light of day.
But for dark places of the earth,
Where shame and crime and wrong have birth.

And so, sometimes a flame we find,
Clear shining through the night,
So bright we do not see the lamp
But only see the light.
So may I shine – His life the flame -
That [all] may glorify His name.

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