Rise & Shine - January 07
Finding God in the dark spaces of our lives.
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's story can be read or downloaded below.
Researchers Report Loss of Night Due to Artificial Light
In the News
Last month an international team of researchers reported in the Science Advances Journal that artificial light is becoming more pervasive and intrusive, creating greater light pollution that is negatively impacting humans and other species.
Using a NASA satellite radiometer to study data during the month of October each year from 2012 to 2016, scientists found that artificial lighting brightened and extended in scope over earth's surface by over 2 percent each year. The phenomenon happened faster in developing regions in Asia, Africa and South America, while already brightly lit wealthier nations remained stable.
Scientists had expected that the switch many cities have made from sodium lamps to LEDs would result in a decrease in light pollution, but the opposite happened.
Forms of light pollution include:
- Light trespass, when an area receives unneeded or unwanted light;
- Over-illumination, when an area receives excessive light;
- Glare, when the quality of lighting is blinding, incapacitating. debilitating or discomforting, contributing to problems such as night vision and unsafe driving conditions;
- Light clutter, when too many lights are grouped together, distracting or confusing the observer; and
- Skyglow, when light sources are improperly directed or inadequately shielded so as to produce a diffuse glow that can be seen from large distances, such as the glowing dome of light seen over many cities and towns throughout the world.
While artificial light has led to higher worker productivity and safety, over-illumination and inefficient lighting can result in energy waste and needless expense. Light pollution makes it harder for astronomers to study the heavens with ground-based telescopes. Experts estimate that the Milky Way can no longer be seen by one third of the world's population, including four out of five Americans and three out of five Europeans.
Artificial light "threatens biodiversity through changed night habits, such as reproduction or migration patterns, of many different species: insects, amphibians, fish, birds, bats and other animals," reported Franz Holker, one of the authors of the study.
Artificial light can reduce the pollinating activity of nocturnal insects and animals, lowering crop yield. It can interfere with predator-prey relations, throwing natural selection off balance. Increasing artificial light results in the decline of available food sources for songbirds, and encourages surface algae on lakes, which negatively affects water quality.
The loss of night sky causes birds, amphibians and reptiles confusion and stress at critical stages of migration, breeding and raising of offspring, making it harder for them to thrive, and even putting their survival at risk.
Light pollution also affects the health of humans. It can disrupt normal sleep patterns, and correlates with the incidence of vision problems, headaches, fatigue, stress, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, and breast and prostate cancer, as well as a decrease in sexual function.
According to Holker, "Artificial light is an environmental pollutant with ecological and evolutionary implications for many organisms -- from bacteria to mammals, including us humans -- and may reshape entire social ecological systems."
The idea of light pollution can be distinctively applied to our faith. How can we turn off the clutter in our over-busy lives and look for God in the dark and quiet spaces? How can we be on the look-out for “artificial light” that may make us feel good in the moment but hides the true presence of God?
More on this story can be found at these links:
Artificially Lit Surface of Earth at Night Increasing in Radiance and Extent. Science Advances
Artificial Lights Are Eating Away at Dark Nights -- And That's Not a Good Thing. Los Angeles Times
Light Pollution: Night Being Lost in Many Countries. BBC
Loss of the Night: Light Pollution Rising Rapidly on a Global Scale. CNN
Light Pollution Is Getting Worse. Popular Science
Light Pollution. Wikipedia
Here are some Bible verses to guide your discussion:
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin." Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. (For context, read 20:18-21.)
When the people of God came to Mount Sinai, God told Moses he would come to him in a dense cloud so that the people could hear God speak and live through the experience (19:9, 23). Then God gave Moses the Ten Commandments (20:1-17).
The people were frightened by the spectacle of thunder, lightning, smoke and the sound of a trumpet that accompanied God's voice, and asked Moses to act as a sort of buffer to protect them. Then Moses reassured them with the words of this text.
Later in the history of Israel, when King Solomon dedicated the temple, he said, "The LORD has said that he would dwell in thick darkness" (1 Kings 8:12).
Questions: Have you sensed God's presence in frightening experiences and found that God was there in "the thick darkness"? When such a thing happens, are you more likely to stand "at a distance" or to "draw near to the thick darkness where God is"? What can times of darkness teach us about God and about God's desire for us?
2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds. (For context, read 11:12-15.)
Paul warned the Corinthian believers to beware of false apostles who used deception to gain status in the church. This is one place where light is not seen as positive in scripture, because it is used to hide the true unrighteous nature of Satan and his ministers.
Questions: Where in our society or in the church do you see evidence of a kind of artificial spiritual light that is intended to confuse the observer and hide a malicious, destructive purpose? How can you determine whether a leader is really walking in the light of God, or is only wearing a disguise to mask unrighteous motives and deeds?
Prayer for the Future of the Human Race (BCP p.828)
O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us
dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before
the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes
for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in
making provision for its future in accordance with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.