This is the third in a series of reflective blogs. It is a space for people to reflect, think out loud, or grapple with faith and church life.
If you would be interested in writing a blog, either as a one-off or regularly, please drop me a message on firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog was written my Matt Collins, our Communications Coordinator
I hate gadgets that have little LEDs on them. Especially those really bright blue ones. At night, when I’m struggling to sleep, they seem to light up the whole room. That is why most of mine have a blob of blu-tack or masking tape over them.
Have you ever noticed that even the smallest of lights can actually light a large area? Hold a match up in a fully lit room, and it seems to give off a little bit of light. But strike that same match in a pitch black room, and suddenly you can see an awful lot.
In the Gospels, one of the first things John says is ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1:5 NRSV). Light is extremely powerful, light can change how the world is seen. Light expels darkness, and there is nothing the darkness can do to fight back.
And as Christians, we are called to be the light. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that we are the light, the hill on a city, which would be a beacon of safety and security for others. And then he points out that ‘No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it under the bushel basket’ (Matthew 5:15 NRSV). What an obvious waste that would be!
But if I could, I would add an extra verse in there. I would add ‘No one, after lighting a lamp, leaves it in an already fully lit room.’ What good is it to light a lamp and leave it in a room where there is already plenty of light? Your new lamp isn’t able to show its full potential. That lamp is going to be more useful in a place currently shroud in darkness, isn’t it?
So, if we, as Christians, are called to be lights in the world, where is our light going to be most useful? In our nice, comfy, well lit churches on a Sunday Morning, or outside; in the pubs and coffee shops, on the streets, where there light of the good news of Jesus isn’t already obvious?
There is a quotation by William Shedd that I often reflect on; ‘A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for’. A ship works perfectly well inside the safety of the harbour walls; it’ll float, hold cargo, stop people’s feet getting wet. But that’s not its full potential. A ship is only really useful when it moves outside the harbour.
I’m not saying that Sunday services don’t offer a much needed… service… When I was a scout (and still now as a Scout Leader!) I was fascinated by burning wood. Hold a stick with its end on fire out of the flames, and sooner or later it will go out. But put it back into the heat of the fire and it suddenly bursts back into flame. Sometimes we need to be in the presence of others to re-energise, to get that spark back. It’s the same as the ship, sometimes they need to go back to the safety of the harbour; to refuel, restock supplies and repair any damage. Sunday morning is a time to get restock, find that spark, be with others who energise us, but that can’t be all our faith is.
What I’m trying to say is that our faith calls us to go outside what is comfortable, familiar, well lit, to the places where we can make the most difference. Jesus, it seems, spent a lot more time and energy outside the Temple, meeting people where they were, making the difference that they needed. And I think that is what we are called to do too.