“You are the light of the world… So let your light shine…” – Matthew 5:14-15
Many years ago I knew an old woman who never took down her Christmas tree or unplugged its lights. They stayed on, twinkling in her picture window, day and night, year after year. I thought she was weird.
I’m older now. Now I don’t think she was weird. I think she was prudent, realistic, even brave. Because some of us go through life thinking we already have all the light we require, no need for more. The seasons will always be bright, night will not encroach on day, shadows are easy to control, we have them under control. But we don’t, and we need all the light we can get.
For there’s no season without a gradual or sudden darkening of what had been humming along, shiny and clear—a diagnosis wipes out a future, a tornado wipes out a town, a bullet wipes out our confidence in justice. Fierce things go bump in the night. They aim to suck the life out of us by fear. We’ll succumb if there’s no nightlight on somewhere in the house, if someone is careless and turns off the last light. She wasn’t going to be responsible for that. In her house, the lights stayed on.
I think of Jesus this way, bright and constant in the world’s window, a nightlight left on in the place that’s darkest for us, shining so we won’t be afraid. As we learn to trust him, something strong and bright begins to shine in us too, a light as old and as new as creation. For the world’s gloom, he’s made us courage and grace. For its fearful night, a dawn.
By your light, show us our own, O Christ. Keep us constant in shining, light for all in the house.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.