Pastoral Perspectives

Go Light Your World

What comes to mind when you hear or see the word – light? Depending on how we are raised, we will associate light with different things.

When I was younger, light was something that comes and goes off frequently. When there is no electricity, we burn candles. For outdoor events, we often use petromax lamps. We also make bonfires in the night to celebrate different events. To me, light is associated with electricity, candles, lamps and fire. To some, it means the moon, the sun, fireworks, clarity, wisdom, understanding etc.

This weekend, the Indian festival Deepavali will be celebrated by many around the world. It is also called the Festival of Lights. If you go to Little India this weekend, you will see the street lit up with colourful lights. Their homes would be decorated too. The traditional ones will use the typical lamps made of clay which can hold oil to fuel the fire. A cotton wick is placed into the lamp and lighted.

It is celebrated to signify ‘victory over evil, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance’. This thought is not unique to the Hindus. Other religions also have this idea and is celebrated in their own ways. When we want to celebrate, lights and fireworks have a way of displaying it. Last week in UK, they were celebrating Bonfire Night and some thought it was in celebration of the US election.

Something that comes close to us believers is Christmas – but on a much larger and grander scheme of things. During Christmas, we also see lights being put up in the streets and homes too. Although over the years, it has become commercial, there is still this practice of lighting up the place to celebrate Christmas. The prophet Isaiah cries out in chapter 9 verse 2, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.

In the ancient world, there were no light bulbs and decorations as we understand light today. To them, light would be associated with fire- fueled by oil, wood or something else. In order to keep the fire burning, they would need to refuel the oil or wood. The parable of the ten virgins tells of how the oil can run out.

When Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12) and “You are the Light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16), I wonder how the early ordinary people understood these words. For us today, we know that the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ultimate victory over evil, the sins of the world.

Jesus is the ultimate light which needs no refueling because He is the Light. With His incarnation, he become like one of us and dwelt among us and is with us today. When we believe and accept Him as our Lord and Jesus Christ, we become one with Him and He lives in us. It means that we can also have that Light in us- the source of that Light is not going to run dry! This is comforting and amazing because that means we need not depend on ourselves or other sources to keep this light shining or fire burning. The Lord is our light and salvation (Psalm 27:1).

Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I asked my children what Jesus might be saying when He said “You are the light of the world” and they replied that it means we are to be models of Jesus for others to see. Indeed, we are commanded to be models of Jesus, to give light to those around us. It is interesting to note that lamps are not lighted and placed under a basket. Every year during Deepavali, there are stories of houses been gutted because lamps were not placed properly. Lamps are meant to be put on a stand for a reason – to give light in the dark.

After this weekend, what remains will perhaps be only the memory of how the festival was celebrated. How it impacts those who celebrate it and how they are to live their lives as a result of this ‘victory’ is hardly talked about.  Not so for us believers of Jesus Christ. As a result of what Christ has done, we are to bear witness to His grace and stand out where we can shine His light for those who are in the dark and ultimately to bring glory to our Father in heaven. There is a purpose for us!

Christmas is round the corner and as we look at the world, we can all concur that this year has been exceptionally challenging and difficult at many levels. Many are living in dark times and going through pain and suffering. We can take courage in knowing that Christmas is a reminder of how light has dawned upon the dark and sinful world. Christ, the Light of the world has come and saved us from the ultimate darkness and that we need not face it alone. He has given us His light so that we may also shine it for others to see. The lamp shines best when the darkness is darkest.

The Lord is our Light and we can cling on to Him and go out into the dark world to shine for His glory. May we go out and tell the good news that Christ has won the ultimate victory by paying the price for us all. We have been saved to shine for Him so let us go and light our world.

Go Light Your World
By Chris Rice

There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
And hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world

Frustrated brother, see how he’s tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she’s been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame

‘Cause we are a family whose hearts are blazing
So let’s raise our candles and light up the sky
Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus
Make us a beacon in darkest times.

Pr Loliro Sani

November 15, 2020