The Texas Version of Ephesians 5:8-14Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord... Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.... and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Before we move on from Ephesians 5:8-14, I want to reiterate a crucial point I made earlier in this series of reflections. It came in the reflection on "The Christmas Eve Disco Ball." It's a point that we who speak English can easily miss. If you speak Texan, however, you have a way of making sure we get the sense of the original.
Before we get to the Texas version of this passage, however, I want to make a comment about the original Greek. As we read this passage in English, we see the word "you" and verbs that correspond to it: you were darkness; you are light; live; find out; having nothing to do with; expose. Because the word "you" can be both singular (you by yourself) and plural (you and others), and because American culture, including Christian culture, tends to be individualistic, we might easily read this passage as speaking to us as separate individuals: "For you (by yourself) were once darkness, but now you (by yourself) are light in the Lord." Yet, this would miss the sense of the original language, not to mention the point of the passage.
All of the uses of "you" in this text are plural. In fact, the word "you" doesn't actually show up in the Greek, but is implied in all of the verbs: you (plural) were; you (plural) walk; finding out (plural); you have nothing to do with (plural); you (plural) expose. That Ephesians 5:8-14 is addressed to a plural audience is underscored in verse 8 where it says, "Live as children of light." This does not say "Live as a child of the light." Rather, it addresses the Christian community together. Together, we are to walk as children of light, even as we were once darkness together and together should find out what pleases the Lord. Together, we should avoid partnership with the deeds of darkness and should together expose these deeds.
Folk in Texas, and throughout the American South, have a way of making sure we know when we're speaking to "you" in the plural. I suppose it's the equivalent of "youse" or "you guys" in some dialects of American English. No, I'm not thinking just of "y'all," which sounds like it means "you plural." In fact, "y'all" can sometimes address a single person. So, when Texans want to make the plural very clear, they use "all y'all."
So, in order to make the meaning of our passage abundantly clear, I would propose the following paraphrase of the text. This "Texas paraphrase" will also reflect what we have learned in our close study of the text and its meaning. Thus, with no further ado, here is Ephesians 5:8-14 in the Texas Version:
For all y'all were once darkness, but now all y'all are light in the Lord. All y'all live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and all y'all find out what pleases the Lord. All y'all don't become partners with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather all y'all expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
This version underscores a crucial point. We are not alone as light in the world. It is not our singular calling to shine the light of Christ into the darkness. You are not so much a solitary child of the light as you are one in the family of the children of light. We will only be able to fulfill our calling as light if we do so together, in shared community and ministry. When we shine as children of light together, we will sustain our glow, we will shine more brightly, and practitioners of darkness will see the light of Christ among us and be drawn to this light.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How are you connected to your fellow children of light? In what ways are you shining together in the world? How might you grow in your community with your fellow Christians, so that you might shine more brightly and more consistently?
PRAYER: Thank you, gracious God, for joining me to your people, for adopting me as one of your children of light. Help me, I pray, to live in conscious, committed, and growing community with my enlightened siblings. Help us to shine together in the dark world around us. May the ways we live with each other bear witness to the gospel. May our shared deeds of service and acts of kindness in the world reflect your light. Amen.
Best Vacation Stories
While the stereotypical summer vacation usually involves a cabin or a beach, the vacations most of us take are much less nostalgic and far more varied than that. Or even if there is a beach or a cabin, it’s not the one we see in movies or read in books. Some of the best vacations, in fact, don’t involve packing or traveling at all; they happen in the backyard or on the front porch. At The High Calling, we’re telling some of our best vacation stories, the ones where things didn’t turn out as expected, where plans changed and so did we.
Featured image above by Vernon Swanepoel. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.