You are the light of the world -- like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. -- Matthew 5:14 (NLT)
ABINGDON, Va. (Dec. 18, 2014) -- While driving to a meeting late one afternoon in December, I passed a subdivision of large brick homes with well-manicured lawns. Green Christmas wreaths with red bows were centered in each window of every house facing the street. The entrance to the subdivision was adorned with a perfectly shaped Christmas tree with numerous electrical wires and bulbs.
I concluded that the bulbs on the tree were anxiously awaiting that moment at dusk when they would automatically break forth with a shout of glistening light! "Oh, if only my house and tree were decorated so beautifully," I thought to myself.
As that vision was nestled in my head, I soon approached a mobile-home park. There were no brick homes here, though there were signs of brick underpinnings for some of the dwellings. Cars and trucks, parked in the yard, partially hid from view the much-need repairs of these homes. Nothing in sight spoke of the Christmas season -- no decorated tree nor wreaths with bows.
Later in the evening, I passed the same way on my return trip. Imagine my surprise when I noticed a piercing light, perhaps one of those battery-operated candles, glowing in the window of one of the mobile homes! I scanned the surroundings to check for other signs of light – only to find none. There was only the brightness of that one lone candle which held my attention and, in some strange way, expressed a sense of hope and comfort.
I often think of that one light and the impression it made on me in the surrounding darkness. We only need drive through our own communities, read the local newspaper, or watch the evening news to be reminded that we live in a time of darkness and light; war and peace; lack and abundance; hate and love; injustice and justice; fear and faith; despair and hope. In the midst of these realities we are admonished to let our lights shine by our deeds so that God might be glorified and the Church edified.
Sometimes as a faith community we unite to shine -- and sometimes we stand alone -- but nonetheless we are called to shine for truth, love, peace, hope, goodwill and justice for all. It is my hope that the candles and other illuminations of this Christmas season will remind us of our power and responsibility to shine the light. Remember that as we live for Christ, His light will shine forth and the darkness will not overtake the light.
The Rev. Sandra Johnson is superintendent for the 91 churches of Abingdon District.