For this month’s prayers, we’re considering the creation narrative in the book of Genesis.
On the first day God created light; on the second day God created the sky; and on the fourth day (don’t worry, we’ll come back to day three later!) God created the sun, moon and stars:
In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. The earth was empty and had no form. Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, so he divided the light from the darkness. God named the light ‘day’ and the darkness ‘night’. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the first day. Then God said, “Let there be something to divide the water in two.” So God made the air and placed some of the water above the air and some below it. God named the air ‘sky’. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the second day…
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to separate day from night. These lights will be used for signs, seasons, days, and years. They will be in the sky to give light to the earth.” And it happened. So God made the two large lights. He made the brighter light to rule the day and made the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars. God put all these in the sky to shine on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that all these things were good. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fourth day.
[Genesis 1: 1–8, 14–19, New Century Version]
The first thing to notice here is that there was light before there were lights: God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light – but it was a full three days later when God created the sun, moon, and stars. Sometimes we look in the wrong place for ‘light’ (the cult of celebrity springs to mind), and forget that God alone is truly light. God gives us ‘lights’ along the way (scripture, for example, or the ‘communion of saints’, worship, encounters with others, etc) to lead us ultimately to God, the true source of light.
The second thing is that when God had finished the work of creation, there was still darkness. God didn’t do away with the darkness – God separated it from the light; God didn’t ignore the darkness – God named it ‘night’; God didn’t leave the darkness dark – God created the moon and stars to shine in the darkness. Both light and darkness are God-created; darkness, it seems, is an intentional feature of the created world. We need darkness in order to better see and pursue the light.
And third, God created the lights in the sky “to rule over the day and over the night”. A song by one of my favourite bands* includes the lyric, ‘If there was nothing wrong then there’d be nothing right’. None of us can deny that there’s a lot wrong with our world, but “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it” [John 1: 5] – light was created to rule, and to prevail, in our world.
Who or what are, or have been, the ‘lights’ – the sun, moon and stars – on your faith journey?
When or how have you encountered God in a time of ‘darkness’?
What are you doing, or what might you do, to enable light to prevail in the world?
Who created this vast and wonderful world,
We thank you for all that is revealed to us in creation.
Forgive us when we seek light in the wrong places.
Forgive us when we refuse to see the darkness of the world.
Forgive us when we doubt your power to prevail.
Help us to seek the truth of your light.
Help us to see and name the darkness.
Help us to be light in your vast and wonderful world.
We pray in the name of Jesus.
Image: photo by David Billings on www.unsplash.com
* Song – ‘What a Shame’, Shinedown, The Sound of Madness, 2007.
Prayer of the Week by Jude Simms