Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ has been the anthem of Light Parties ever since it was released a decade ago. Light Parties are the Christian alternative to the often dark and sinister trick or treating tradition, and Halloween parties with far too big a budget for fake cobwebs.
Lots of things stay the same at Light Parties: fancy dress, too many sweets, lots of (happy) screaming. But lots of things are different too: there might be a short gospel talk, and no scares or enthusiastic embrace of the dark or Satanic. It’s a reclaiming, a celebration of light, and the true Light – Jesus – who came into the world to take captive the darkness.
And, Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ fits right in – doesn’t it?
‘Cause baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth
Except we must tread carefully. We must guard ourselves from adhering to the worldview of individualism, I-dictate-my-destiny, what-I-want-is-always-right perspective that has infiltrated our culture.
We must take care to explain to the kids in our youth groups, kids services and Light Parties that Christians are perfect sinners. Perfect – yes, by the grace of God, but still marred by sin this side of eternity.
Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Even if we won’t admit it in quite those terms, we all know what it’s like to feel like a plastic bag tossed about in the breeze. We’ve messed up – again. We’ve underestimated or jumped with two feet into the wind of temptation. We’ve been blown along with little or no attempt to stop ourselves. We feel empty and ashamed and terrified someone will discover our mistakes and failings. We try to start again but fail. We can’t go an hour without sinning, let alone a day.
Our burden is heavy and is heavier all the time.
You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
Katy Perry is right – we are original and irreplaceable, though I doubt we’d agree on why. Genesis 1 tells us we have great dignity. We are made in God’s image. God is so pleased about this that he tells us twice in Genesis 1:27! God has lovingly and intentionally breathed life into us – we are not a mistake he’d rather overlook. In fact, we’re the pinnacle of his creation, set apart and made stewards over it (Genesis 1:28-30).
But we know Genesis 3, and our own hearts and thoughts and actions all too well. We don’t steward his world, ourselves or our relationships well. We play the blame game. We don’t live up to God’s standard. We don’t come close.
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you?
‘Cause there’s a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Yet wonderfully, there IS a chance. But it’s not because of a spark of goodness in any of us. We can’t ignite the light in ourselves because left to ourselves, there is no light! We are stuck in the mire of darkness and sin.
But Jesus, the Light of the World, has come into our world of darkness, death and sin and shone his light, life and freedom. At the cross, the perfect Light died for those in darkness – and the Light is NOT overcome (John 1:5). In fact, the darkness is vanquished. It flees from the Light in defeat.
And those of us in the light are called to shine for Jesus, not for ourselves. We still battle against temptation and sin, but we are people who want the glory for God – not ourselves. We know we’d still be groping in the dark but for the Light. And we want those around us, those still in the darkness to be drawn in by our light. Think moths to a flame – they can’t help but come close.
Let’s be lights who shine with our actions – serving sacrificially, in the home, in the office, on holiday, on the commute. Serving even those that don’t notice or we don’t think deserve it. Serving in big ways as well as small and perhaps overlooked (though not by our Heavenly Father) ways – walking the dog, loading the dishwasher, letting someone else board the tube first.
And let’s be lights who shine with our words – words that encourage and build up, reminding each other of gospel truths, checking angry outbursts or white lies.
I’ll admit it doesn’t quite scan but here’s a more accurate re-write:
‘Cause baby, you’re a firework – for Jesus
Come on, show ’em what you’re worth – because he has paid the price for your sin
By all means, keep belting out ‘Firework’ at your Light Parties – I will. But perhaps use it as a springboard for introducing the great triumph and victory of the true Light, Jesus.
Happy Light Party.