Is your child afraid of the dark? Maybe you’ve felt afraid of the dark yourself. Nighttime, no matter your age, is scary.
I recently found myself in rural Michigan and was amazed by how dark it got at night. I live outside Detroit, where the light pollution makes the stars look like dull pinpricks in the heavens. Away from home, far from any human lights, the stars blazed. They lit up the dark night sky like tiny beacons. It was, in a word, magical. It was also a little scary.
Streetlights, car headlights and other lights that make us feel safe also make it hard to see the stars above. But it’s not our light bulbs and switches that keep us safe—it’s God. And God’s presence with us, in the person of Jesus Christ, was announced by one of the stars we so often fail to notice.
This January, point out the stars in the night sky to your children. These stars are a gentle reminder that God alone brings light into the world. If you want to go deeper, you can use the dark as a teaching moment with your little one(s). Here’s how.
Put Epiphany on your family calendar. This year it’s Saturday, Jan. 6, but any night around then will do. Set aside 15 minutes well after dark. You’ll need a candle, lighter and a Bible with John 1:5 and 8:12 bookmarked.
Gather your family together and tell them, “Tonight we are celebrating Epiphany. On Epiphany we celebrate Jesus as the light of the world.” Light a candle, then turn off the lights.
If they are of reading age, ask your children to read John 8:12. They might be able to, but they might not because of the darkness. If they can’t, ask them to come close to the candle. Then your children (or you) will read John 8:12 three times, with pauses in between. While this is going on, everyone’s eyes will adjust to the candlelight so they will be able to see in a minute if they can’t right away.
After the reading, ask everyone if they can see the whole room. Ask, “Did you think that one candle could light a whole room? That it could be that bright?” Explain to them that just as this one little candle can light a whole room so, too, can one little baby, Jesus Christ, light the whole world.
Close out your time together by reading John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Then say, “Amen.”