My young self didn’t understand the fullness of the verses in Matthew from which this song came. I thought that letting my light shine meant being a “good girl,” being obedient to my parents and teachers, and being on the watch for Satan, lest he enter my mind or heart.
That way of thinking lasted well into my adulthood. But along the way, I was blessed to encounter many exemplary people from diverse backgrounds and faith traditions who showed me what it meant to shine one’s light—God’s light—in the world. I learned from them. I’m still learning, as I encounter new people who help light my way. And because those people have en-lightened me, I’ve become more open to exploring my own, God-given light.
I’ve spent a great deal of time this year searching, praying, and meditating on how to first recognize the light God created within me, and then to expand that light so others witness it. The search for my own, inner light hasn’t been easy for me, and I’m sure some of you can relate. But there’s one place it comes naturally. One place into which I enter and immediately know I’m bathed in God’s Light, the Light of Christ, the burning flame of the Holy Spirit. And it’s here.
On Sunday mornings when I see people setting out the refreshments around which we’ll gather, dropping change in the jar for the orphans in Ghana, donating food for those in need, carefully preparing the altar, greeting newcomers and old-timers, singing, playing, and conducting glorious notes…When I hear powerful proclamations of God’s Word and moving preaching that inspires me to act… When I witness loving eyes and hands meeting during the Sign of Peace…When I notice ushers quietly leading us to the Eucharist and ministers reverently assisting the presider and presenting the Body and Blood of Christ…When I experience the power of healing prayer and see the children happily hopping off to Sunday School or skipping up for the children’s prayer…then I see God’s light. I see God. And I’m illuminated. I’m aware that this same light dwells within me. I’m reminded that I’m called to shine that light. Unabashedly. Unashamedly. And not just on Sundays. Because of you. All of you. Every single member of Christ’s body here. Every one of you who makes this Church – Christ’s Body – a light unto the world. A place to remember. To shine.
I’m immensely grateful to be a member of this community, where, “With the eyes of [our] heart[s] enlightened, [we] may know what is the hope to which [God] has called [us],” and we are gifted with the opportunity and the mandate to let our light shine in this world. Who knows? If we don’t hide it under a bushel, it just might ignite a firestorm of love.