From Dark to Light

CREATE A SACRED TIME AND SPACE
Leave all screens turned off and outside of the gathering space/room.
Set a single candle in the center of your space or on a child’s nightstand or headboard.

As you light the candle, you might sing or say, Healer of our Every Ill1

“Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear
And hope beyond our sorrow”

TAKE A MOMENT
This is a time to become fully present with one another and with God.
Invite everyone to take a deep breath in and exhale fully.
Repeat this deep breathing for about 20 seconds, everyone at their own pace.

LET GO & RECEIVE
Excitement over past or future events - or, worries, pain and/or guilt - can keep us from immersing in God’s loving Presence, right here and now.

You might invite participants to Let Go as follows:

“In one or two words, when has it been hard to see God’s light today?”

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: know that you are, right now, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the light of God.
Breathe out: release into grace any guilt, shame or pain caused by the darkness you may have felt today.

Pause

You might invite participants to Receive Grace as follows:

“How have you followed the Spirit’s lead, today?

Allow time for a response from each individual.

Breathe in: notice how the Spirit is as close to you as your breath.
Breathe out: thank God for filling you with what you need for each day.”

Pause


READING SUMMARY
Before moving on, take two more deep breaths.

Then share a summary of this evening’s text. Using your own words is strongly encouraged. If that feels uncomfortable or overwhelming, or if you would like a young person to lead this portion, here are some thoughts on this story:

The reading for tonight is about living in light and living in darkness. When something or a room is lit up, you can see it! Being seen is important. These verses suggest that we live in light as opposed to living in darkness. When we live in light, we are seen. Being with each other and noticed by others is important. While needing some time alone can be good and healthy, it is important to check-in with others and with ourselves. Being in the dark or hiding our feelings or hiding actions from those who we love and care about and who love and care about us can cause us to feel isolated. We might also be tempted to say or do things we know we shouldn’t. Being in the light is about being seen and heard.

SHARING THE READING
Readings can be shared around the circle by verse, or a different reader can lead each night.

A reading from Ephesians 5:8-14

8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Sleeper, awake!
    Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”


DISCUSS
At the close of the reading you might begin with basic questions, such as:
Did this reading have any words or ideas that anyone doesn’t understand?
Let’s explore what those might mean, together.

If you are ready for further discussion, you might consider these questions:
*Talk about being in the light versus being in the dark.


CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
From your devotional basket, please take the following items:
~Notebook or binder for everyone
~Drawing or coloring utensil(s) for everyone

Be sure notebooks/binders and utensils are handy but not a distraction.
You might invite the group into prayer with these or similar prompts:

I invite everyone to find a comfortable posture appropriate to prayer and I encourage everyone to close their eyes.

Allow a few beats for the movement to settle down.

Let’s all take a few deep breaths to settle our minds:
~let go of the discussion questions and conversation;
~let go of the Bible story;
~let yourself rest for a moment in the love of your family and the presence of
God.

After a few deep breaths, share the following:

With your notebook and a writing utensil in front of you, close your eyes.
Imagine a dark place. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings in the dark.

Pause

Now, imagine you have a flashlight.
Imagine shining the light in the dark space. What do you find in this dark space? Maybe it is important people. Maybe it is thoughts and feelings. Take some time to shine the light all over. Take your time and look around.

Pause for a minute

Now, slowly open your eyes and shift your focus to the paper. Without talking and without much movement, draw or write the first things that come to your mind as you considered the light in the darkness.

Pause and allow for drawing and writing

At the end of your silent time, invite attention back to the room with words like these:

I invite you to return your awareness to this place.
You might wiggle your toes and fingers or gently roll your shoulders or your head.
Slowly bring your body and mind back to here and now, and rest for a moment.

Resting is important: the transition from silence to immediate action or thought can be very jarring. Let the movement from rest to engagement be gentle.

PERSONAL REFLECTION
After a few beats, while people are still transitioning, introduce the reflection questions, as follows:

As we bring our awareness back to here and now, let’s consider how God was with us 
in this time. 
Reflect on a thought or feeling that seemed powerful or meaningful to you.
Where or in what way did you experience God in this time?

Allow about 3-5 minutes; gauge the activity-level of participants to determine when they are “done”.
Invite people to share their reflections with the group/family, only as they are comfortable. Not everyone will have something to share or feel comfortable sharing their experience. Let this be okay: not everyone needs to share.

Listen carefully to one another.
Acknowledge each sharing with words of affirmation.
Discussion can and should be about curiosity, clarity and/or affirmation.
This is not a time for correction or psycho-analyzing experiences.

BEDTIME SONG
As the following song is sung or said, the Leader should gather all materials utilized during the practice. Stow them in the basket for easy removal and future use.

As adults prepare to leave the room, you might sing or say, Healer of our Every Ill1

“Healer of our every ill,
Light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear
And hope beyond our sorrow”

FINAL BLESSING
As they blow out the candle, children can offer the following blessing/prayer with their adults:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”

Adult(s) can share the following blessing/prayer with the child[ren] as they turn out the lights:
“I love you and I know you love me; let’s always be gentle with each other.”


  1. Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Augsburg Fortress; 2006: #612.
THE HOLY BIBLE, (NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Found on Bible Gateway; accessed 03.17.20.

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