No-one knows for sure who wrote the original version of the song. It has been recorded over 350 times by a veritable list of who is who singers including such names as Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Brian Wilson. It has been the background in many movies, and a few commercials. It is one of the most often taught songs in children's music classes. Parents and grandparents sing this song to kids and grandkids. I have sung it to Barb. It was even used on the campaign trail in a Louisiana governor's race, and some claim it is the Louisiana state song. Many of you know it as well. The song...”You are my Sunshine”.
I learned it from my favorite grandmother probably 60 years ago. She would sing it to me and sometimes she played it on the piano as she sang. Then we would play it together on her piano. I can hear it in my head now. It isn't that the song has fantastic music. And it doesn't fall into the same category that serious music does. You are my sunshine is more about the people we have sung it to or with and what was happening in our lives at the time.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away.” I can picture five-year-old me sitting on the piano bench with grandma. I would swing my legs because my feet didn't touch the floor, and it made grandma crazy. Not that I tried to do that but let's face it, if any of us sit so that our feet don't touch the floor, don't we swing our legs back and forth?!
I find it interesting but not surprising that Grandma would be the one to teach me this song. Not that my mother didn't sing. She had a beautiful high soprano voice. But I always equate sunshine with light. And sunshine was not the only thing grandma and I talked about. She taught me about light. Scripture has lots to say about light. We don't have to read very far to see God say,” Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” These few words in Genesis express a principle theme of the Bible: God bringing light into the darkness. Here God created physical light but in the Gospel of John we read Jesus words” Again Jesus spoke to them saying, I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12. And in the end, there will be no need for the sun, moon or stars because the glory of God will be all the light we need. Revelation 21:22-26.
Jesus is the light of the world, the second of His IAM statements. In a world that is stumbling about in the darkness of its sins, Jesus offers Himself as a constant guide for us. The sun is the physical light of the world and Jesus is the spiritual light. And as the light of the world, Jesus not only exposes sin. He gives sight to the blind...the spiritually blind. The psalmist has plenty to say about light as well. We read in Psalm 27:1,” The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life.” Light here indicates deliverance from darkness, which is a Biblical symbol of evil. And of course, we are familiar with Psalm 119:105. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Psalmist here describes God's Word as light, a guide for how we are to live our lives.
In the beginning of Johns gospel, we read” The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus entered into a world darkened by sin to bring spiritual light. And though the evil one tries mightily; his darkness will not ever overtake the light of Christ. If you recall, the Friday that Jesus
was crucified the skies went dark for three hours. It was as though evil had finally won. But come Sunday morning the angels sitting in the empty tomb shone like lightening. And the Roman guards outside Jesus tomb, upon seeing the angel of light shook like dead men.
Every time someone is baptized, we speak of light. Once the person has been washed three times...in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit... a candle is lit. And we speak the words of Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” This is about reflecting the light of Christ, of people seeing Him in what we say and do. And one more from Matthew...5:14. Jesus tells us we are the light of the world and a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Think of another kids' song...This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. As those who bear Jesus name, we are called to be light in a world that is becoming increasingly dark. The things we say, the way we treat people, how we respond to those who live life differently than we do...will either reflect light or they will add to the darkness.
Thank goodness we have the light of Christ to guide our way. We could sing that old kid's song; you are my sunshine to Jesus ...or about Him.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W