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Worship Materials: Darkness and Light

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

THEME             Two Faces of the One God – the One Life Force

 

THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION

  1. Darkness is the womb of the light, nothingness the womb of all things.  Darkness and nothingness are part of the primordial reality ‑ it is from darkness that light is born and it is from formlessness that form emerges. (see Genesis 1:1-5)
  2. The “dark night of the soul” is a way to the treasure trove.
  3. Our shadow is a mixture of amazing wisdom and destructive power. Do not underestimate the power of your shadow it is a wonderful helpmate but a terrible ruler.
  4. The brighter the light, the clearer the shadow.
  5. Light does not dispose of our shadow. Love alone can unlock our  shadow’s treasures, transform its energies and put us in touch with our inner strength.
  6. When we are confronted with our potential for manipulation of other people, for cruelty, for intolerance of other people’s beliefs, life styles, sexual orientation, personality type and ultimately our potential to destroy other people and the Earth itself, we can either move into a denial mode or let love use these insights as a catalyst for a new stage in the development of our spirituality.
  7. All human beings have a shadow but not all are prepared to acknowledge its existence.
  8. A fear named is a fear diminished.
  9. Fear develops wings when the tearful stories of our neglected inner    child are listened to, empathized with and transformed by love.
    (see 1 John 4/18)
  10. The darkness and the light are one in God.
  11. When I accept my darkness, I begin to blossom. This in part is what happens at conversion.
  12. Perhaps the deepest fear is the fear of absorption, the fear of at-oneness.
  13. In the temple of light the Cross is dark and forbidding. In the temple of darkness the Cross shines in mystic radiance.
  14. The fire fanned gently brings life,
    the fire fanned with anxiety destroys.
  15. We cannot win a war against our shadow but we find life when we ask our shadow to bless us.

PRAYER

O God of both the light and the darkness, help us to be unafraid of our inner darkness, our shadow side, that we may cease to attempt to repress our wounds, our grief and all else that disturbs our false image of what constitutes wholeness. Instead, may we embrace with compassionate affirmation all that appears in the guise of separation, division, destruction, chaos and disorder till we glimpse within and beneath it that lake of golden peace which is your presence within our psyche.

HYMNS

The darkness and the light. (BL)

Within the shadows of our thinking. (BL)

When we feel all weighed down with guilt. (BL)

We sing of the darkness. (BL)

In the darkness of my spirit. (BL)

If passion urges us. (BL)

When we have moved. (BL)

 

When love flies on the wings of sacrifice

www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/boundlesslife

Darkness is my mother.

http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

Deep in our minds.

http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

Between our thoughts.

http://www.methodist.org.nz/resources/hymns/the_mystery_telling

That of God within us all.

Singing the Sacred Vol 2 2014 World Library Publications


POEMS/REFLECTIONS

WHEN I AM TEMPTED

O God when I am tempted to bemoan
the time wasted
in lifeless meetings
where infantile games were played,
inconsequential issues boringly explored
and the spirit ground down into submission
under the sheer weight of institutional minutia;
Help me to be aware that I also was partly dead
not making,
not taking,
time enough
to be in the delight of mystery,
not allowing its over-powering
and all nurturing love
to consume me
until apparent irrelevancy
and half alive deadness
was gathered up into
and consumed by
the blazing light
of my small portion of divinity
which connects me
with the fiery elemental whole.

INTO THE DARKNESS

I go into the darkness bearing

My joys, my sorrows, my loving and hating,

My achievements, my failures.

Yet I go unafraid as a whole

And not as a fragment.

For the fire that burns is also the fire that warms,

And the water that drowns is also the water that births life.

And all are one in the mystery from which I came

And to which I return.

 

OUR SHADOW

Commentary

Healing of the wounded human psyche does not occur until we have made our peace with the shadow side of our personality and the fears associated with it. The shadow of our psyche is the opposite of what we commonly call ‘myself’. It includes those aspects which we are least comfortable with and would prefer to pretend do not exist. The acceptance by ordered people of having an untidy side and visa versa can help us not to be obsessive since our greatest strength can also become our greatest weakness if taken to extremes. It is also the place that houses our greatest wounds such as suppressed memories of hurtful events around which fear and anger have gathered. These emotions rise to the surface when something puts us in touch with that initial pain. As the association is not obvious to our rational mind, fear and anger often appear to be triggered by seemingly innocuous comments or actions. To be healed the memory of these painful events needs to be brought to the surface so that our battered child can be nurtured through transforming fear into love, for as the writer of 1 John 4:18 points out “perfect love casts out fear”. It also involves acknowledging our manipulations, our desire to hurt and our carefully crafted defenses.

FOCUS FOR ACTION

  1. The traditional Christmas celebration arises out of adding a Christian festival to the celebration of the mid-winter solstice. Consequently, the festival of the Christ Child and the festival of Darkness and Light are almost inextricably bound together in the northern hemisphere. However, this Euro-centric model runs into major difficulties in the southern hemisphere where Christmas occurs in the middle of summer and Easter in autumn. Perhaps the whole Christian Church, whether northern or southern, should reassess its attitude to nature and view it not as an add-on to Christian festivals but a sacred entity in its own right of which human beings are an integral part. It would then become a part of all liturgies and all Christian celebrations but in addition, would have its own special festivals. By abandoning an anthropocentric approach to reality we would be able to celebrate the seasons in their own right. Both northern and southern hemispheres could have their own Mid-Winter Festivals. What could I do in my own church or group to initiate such a festival?
  2. Do I need to do more exploration of the shadow side of my personality? How could I bring these insights into the services of worship in which I am involved?

 

RESOURCES FOR A MIDWINTER CELEBRATION

INTRODUCTORY PRAYER

Sisters and brothers in Christ, now that we have passed the Winter solstice let us celebrate the lengthening of the daylight, looking forward with hope to the coming of Spring and the season of Easter (northern hemisphere) or Advent (southern hemisphere).

Let us again reawaken our sense of wonder at God’s greatness which far exceeds even the warmth, beauty, light, life and health radiated by the sun. With saints, mystics, artists, prophets, scholars and all humble servants of God may we exalt the One who is the origin and creator of all light.

But first let us remember all who are afraid of darkness, all who have lost their physical sight, all who are blinded by prejudice and misconception, all whose hearts are frozen, all who can only see bleakness ahead of them, all who do not know the warmth that comes from accepting their own God-given worth.

 

SCRIPTURE READINGS (on the theme of darkness and light)

God creates both the darkness and the light.
It is out of the darkness that light is born. (Genesis 1:1-5)

God is present in the darkness (Exodus 20:21)

God speaks from the darkness (Deuteronomy 5:23-24)

Darkness and light are the same to God (Psalm 139:12)

God comes in darkness (Amos 5:18)

A light is promised to those who walk in darkness (Isaiah 9:2)

God’s light shines in the darkness (John 1:1-9)

Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12)

The children of the light have many lessons to learn (Luke 16:8)

Living in the light produces good relationships (1 John 1:5-7)

Both night and day are superseded by the brilliance of God’s presence (Rev 21:22-25)

 

Celebrating Mystery Logo

LOGO NOTE: At the heart of the mystery all the separate boxes disappear and all is one, all is love.

Text and graphic © William Livingstone Wallace but available for free use.

 

 

Review & Commentary