September 17, 2020

Lighting a Candle

Matthew 5:13-16

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

—  Matthew 5:16

Have you ever noticed that when you turn on a powerful light in a bright, sunlit room, you hardly notice that the light is on? But when you light a tiny candle in a dark room at night, you can see so much more than you could before. Light makes a difference according to when and where it is used.

My father-in-law was a pastor who continued ministering to others until the final days of his life. On the wall of his room he posted a simple proverb that summarized his life and legacy: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Everywhere we turn in today’s world, we can see and hear loud voices cursing the darkness. Anger and accusation are commonly accepted ways of speaking out, often with half-truths and even blatant lies.

What are Christ-followers to do in such a time? We are called to light candles: offering words of encouragement; living out Jesus’ kind of meekness when manipulation and deception are often used to wield ­power godlessly; working to help ­others, advocating for them openly as well as serving ­quietly behind the scenes.

Last year I entered semi-retirement, and I am amazed to find so many retired people (and younger ones too!) sharing light. They are teaching refugees, tutoring kids, mentoring teens, working with street people. An 85-year-old woman, for example, leads a group of young, single moms and she said to me, “As long as I have a pulse, I have a purpose.”

Jesus, light of the world, let your light shine through us to break the hold of darkness. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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