An alternative to going dark

Friday brings a change to the White House, a power shift in Washington. I hope—whether you’ll be commiserating with family and friends, celebrating, or marching in protest—that you’ll take a few moments first to ponder darkness and light, contempt and compassion, condemnation and grace.

I’ve seen buzz growing around the idea of going dark on Facebook this Friday by posting a completely black rectangle where your cover photo would normally be. I confess the idea has some appeal to me, but I also know I have to carefully guard my own soul and heart and mind from settling in with dark thoughts and fears.

Church this past Sunday offered a scripture reading that reminded me of an essential truth to cling to in the days and weeks and months ahead. God calls each of us to reflect God’s light to others:

prayersatmissionsanjose2013_ft

I will also make You a light of the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth. — Isaiah 49:6

In Old Testament times, when people clamored for a king and begged God again and again to appoint one, God promised there would be trouble with earthly kings (1 Samuel 8). Given the vitriolic political climate today, it looks like that promise is as true today as it ever was. And to more than half of the people living in this country, these feel like dark, puzzling, distressing times.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” His words are a good reminder that a black rectangle on our Facebook cover cannot drive out the darkness in our politics.

So, irrespective of your political views, may I ask you to be a bearer of the light on Friday and beyond? For those of you considering a change to your cover photo to mark the day, here’s an alternative:

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I took this photo three and a half years ago at a mission in Texas. Please feel free to save it, share it, download it, upload it.

These candles represent prayers and petitions sent up to God. Though a few of the candles are unlit, notice how the light bounces around, spreading itself beyond each flame.

There are ways your light and mine can create greater light. If you see injustice, speak out about it. If you hear a lie, uncover the truth. If you encounter hatred, find ways to overcome it with love. These are the ways we can keep spreading the light.

This Friday (and in all the days beyond), please choose light. Choose compassion. Choose grace. With yourself, with those you know and love, with total strangers.

6 thoughts on “An alternative to going dark

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