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Elements of Illumination

 “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” - John 1:5

In western Canada and the USA, it seems like a new summer norm is wildfires and smoke.  Many places are experiencing dry conditions, hot windy weather and wildfires caused by lightning strikes and human activity. Formerly a common vacation, going to the mountains for stunning lakes and clean crisp air, has become blanketed in a haze of smoke and danger of having to re-route or retreat from out of control fires. With at least 40 verses referencing fire and the actual word itself being used over 400 times in the Bible, a pastor could probably preach an entire year’s worth of sermons on the theme of fire alone. 

 I’m excited to think about the Biblical connection we have with light, lightning, fire and understand it’s relevance to us by creatively imagining contextual parallels we could make for our time. What is creating sources of energy, what is dispelling darkness, what is consuming the old, bringing nutrients and possibility for new beginnings?

I have been driving an electric vehicle for two years now.

Smoldering ideas of Biblical themes can turn us to burning issues of resource stewardship and creation care today. In episode 219 of the “For the Wild” podcast,  Dr. Cutcha Baldy discusses forms of traditional ecological knowledge held by Indigenous Peoples who were stewards of the land for thousands of years before settlers arrived in North America. They had incorporated fire practises and they held regular community cultural and ceremonial burnings. This practise contributed to healthy forests and less severe wildfires. Indigenous People are unable to do these burnings because of land loss, displacement from colonization and the prioritizing of western science as the supreme form of learning and knowledge.  What does a new beginning or a new source of nutrients look like in this example?  

 As a fun thought experiment, could we update some of our language to imagine lamps mentioned in the Bible as solar panels? Or sources of power that the authors mentioned of lightning, sunshine and fire; to now include wind turbines, solar panels and electric heat pumps?

Cue the eye rolls here but driving an EV has made me more emotionally relaxed.

 I do not think it is too far of a contextual shift, to imagine some of the themes the Bible is talking about, are also relevant today when I talk about a simple example like driving an electric car.  On a personal note, I have been driving an electric vehicle for two years now. It has been a decision our family has not regretted and is bringing benefits I had not imagined. The elimination of expenses for gasoline, oil and maintenance that goes with those components is obvious and well documented in other forums. The cost for electricity to charge the car has been so minimal that it has been difficult to tease out of our overall electrical bill. In the broad spectrum of two years charging the car, we have not had a significant increase and any short term fluctuations could be as easily attributed to leaving the Christmas lights on longer or having to homeschool during the pandemic and using more internet. 

Some unexpected benefits for me have been on emotional and spiritual levels. Cue the eye rolls here but driving an EV has made me more emotionally relaxed. It has also gifted me with a silent atmosphere to consider an act, as common as commuting, as having a spiritual component. I am self admittedly a grumpy, impatient driver but the quiet of the car and the immediate visual feedback of conserving battery power by not driving aggressively has calmed my driving habits. Spiritually, I consider sabbath principles and recharging of the soul after a journey out in the car. Being plugged into a source of power to recharge the batteries is something that I know the car and my body need and I am conscious of that, each day when I plug it in. There is a sense of peace in how it runs and by not giving off exhaust, I am not polluting the air with chemicals and noise to those around me.

I submit this to you how I’ve been imagining Biblical application to my context.  I love how The Porter’s Gate gives a similar but different take of musical imagination as they sing about illuminating the shadows as the light shines in the darkness... blessings to you in whatever way you imagine Biblical themes of justice in our context today.  His Kingdom Now Is Come (Behold! Behold!) - YouTube  - John 1:5.

Photo by Joanne Francis on Unsplash


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