Let Your Light Shine by John Kinney

When approached about speaking I was reluctant and not sure it was a good idea.  But I decided to trust the elder’s discernment and give it a go.  If they think I might have something to say, maybe I do.

Keep in mind that I have no theological training and if I say something you disagree with you probably have a valid point.  

I will read three short bible verses.  You do not need to grab a bible and follow along.  May as well start at the beginning. Genesis Chapter 1 verses 1-2  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, and God’s spirit hovered over the water.  God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Gospel of John chapter 1 vs 4-5 (refers to Christ). All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not understand.

Started at the beginning may as well end at the end.  Revelation Chapter 22 vs 5 It will never be night again and they will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them.

And lest I forget, George Fox referred to ““that Inward Light, Spirit, and Grace by which all might know their salvation”. Inspiration for talk.

Light appears as a metaphor for God 250 times in the bible.  Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus use the light metaphor in their spirituality.  When stuff appears again and again it is the Holy Spirit whupping you upside the head saying, “Pay attention!”  Actually the Holy Spirit does not do that.   For me it is more like I get this thought.

When we use metaphors it is saying _____ is like _____.   Final exams are hell.  Stubborn as a mule.

Why use metaphors? If you are going to try and speak about the sublime and ineffable, that through which we live move and have our being, that which is the ground of being, that which is utterly beyond me and totally within me,  how else are you going to do it? 

1. Listen to Terri Grose’s Fresh Air interview of God?   “If you are just joining us, my guest today is Yahweh.  In the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments” when you speak to Moses, your voice is deep and commanding.  Is that you natural voice?“  Well Terri………

2. Buy a copy of the autobiography, “God-My Life of Unconditional Love” when it is available on Amazon?  Actually you have it in front of you, the bible.

Theologian Karl Rahner said there is a mystery we call God.  He did not say God is a mystery.  Get the difference.  Rahner said we should stop using the word God for 50 years because we do not know what we are talking about.  The word God has been distorted, carries a lot of negative baggage.

The prosperity God.  The warrior God.  The clock maker God.  The “tribal” God that just loves members of our denomination.  The God of hell fire and condemnation

Do those images make sense?

St. Augustine, no theological slouch said, “Quid ergo amo, cum deum meum amo.  What do I love when I love you my God?”

When we think of a mystery we commonly think of it as something we can’t figure out like what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.  When we refer to the mystery of God it means you can never stop figuring it out.    It is like an onion with infinite layers to be peeled away. Hey I just used a metaphor!! 

So why is light a good metaphor:

1.  Light is how God, the invisible, in the form of his creation, became visible.  I call this first manifestation of God the visibleination.  How’s that fancy pants theologians.   Scientists even date it.  13.7 billion years ago, the big bang. 

Aside: I did not include the following in my message.  It is interesting to think about and I truly believe that God has to have the most amazing sense of humor.

Imagine if you will that the Genesis story is literal, God has night vision and forgets to create light.

And the Lord took it upon himself to walk with Adam in the garden.  And behold, God looked upon Adam and spoke unto him, “How is it that thou art covered with bruises, scraps and scratches more numerous than the stars in the sky?”  Adam cried out unto to the lord. “I can’t see anything and keep bumping into stuff, tripping and falling.”  And the Lord spoke unto Adam, “Did I not giveth thee two eyes to see with.  Art thou blind?”  And Adam spoke, “It is pitch dark, duh!” And the lord spoke, “My bad. Let there be light.”

2.  Light allows us to see.  The mystics say that a goal is to see with the eyes of God so that we will see things as they are because, surprise, we see things as WE ARE.

3. Can anyone tell me what this acronym means? ROYGBIV (Red, orange, yellow, green , blue, indigo, violet)  If you shine light through a prism you see that it is composed of all the colors.   Light is all inclusive.  

4.  Light sustains us.  If you really think about it, eating a baked potato can be an experience of total awe.  In the sun two hydrogen atoms combine to produce helium by nuclear fusion.   Oversimplification: 1 g hydrogen + 1 g hydrogen does not = 2 grams helium.  You get 1.9 g.  Where did the 0.1 g go?  It was turned into energy, a boat load of energy in the form of sunlight.  Aside:  For the Hiroshima bomb the energy came from the conversion of .7 gram of mass to energy. (7/10 of the mass of a dollar bill).  The sun loses 5 million tons of mass per second.

But how does the light energy get all the way from the sun, 94 million miles away, to us?  Imagine 20 boys at one end of a swimming pool and one boy at the other end on an air mattress. The 20 boys bet the 1 boy $5 they can knock him off the mattress without touching him.  Bet is on.  The 20 boys jump in the pool all at once.  The wave they create moves down the pool and knocks the boy off the mattress.

In a kind of similar way the wave of light energy travels all the way from the sun to earth. The leaves in a potato plant take water from the soil, carbon dioxide from the air and the light energy from the sun and make glucose.  The light energy did not disappear.  It changed form and is now chemical energy in the glucose.  The plant packs a bunch of glucoses together in the form of starch and stores it in the underground potato.  You eat the potato, convert the chemical energy in the potato into a more manageable form of chemical energy and then convert the chemical energy into sound energy, mechanical energy, and heat energy.


If the sun went out, even if we could stay warm, it is game over.

Think about this.  As the sun produces the energy that sustains us it is dying.

5. Last one.  Light makes your shadow visible.   (Talk about walking down street at night from street light to street light).  Directly under the light, no shadow, move away from the light and my shadow is in front of me and getting bigger, half way between lights very dim shadows in front and behind, walk towards the next light and my shadow is behind me.  Lots of stuff going on here metaphorically.

As we enter the silence:  Comment on anything you feel moved to comment on.

Query:  There are many metaphors for God.  There has to be.   Are there specific metaphors you are drawn to?  Why?

This message was given by John Kinney to Spokane Friends during Sunday worship on August 22, 2021.

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