We had lost everything. Well, not quite everything. Each of us had been allowed to take 5 pounds of personal possessions when we were loaded onto the small twin-engine C-47 and flown out of the jungle in the war-torn Congo.
For a brief period of three months, we were welcomed into the safety of a large mission station in (what was then) Southern Rhodesia. Those people and that place became our sanctuary during a time of uncertainty when we didn't know what was ahead. One of the moments during those three months I remember very clearly is a night-time worship service. The sanctuary was packed with Africans and a scattering of missionaries. The pews were packed, the faces around me were almost all black, the joy was palpable and the only light in the room -as I recall- came from the candles.
I was nine years old at the time. It's my first clear memory of Communion. We passed the elements down the row, from person to person, and in that instant I realized that the light in the room wasn't just from the candles but the light was the One who was with us.
He was with us in the middle of the uncertainty. He was with us in the middle of the not-knowing. He was with us in the middle of the change.
John 1:5, which is one of the most beautiful verses in all of scripture, says (referring to Jesus as the eternal Word of God), "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."
Somehow, even as a nine year old, I believed that to be true. And, now, after many detours and journeys down both easy and hard words, I believe it to still be true: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."
There are many things you and I may not be able to do during this pandemic, as we look out for one another and keep one another as safe as possible, but we can still let the light of God's love shine through us. As we give, as we serve, as we pray, as we speak up for the poor and the powerless and the forgotten, as we do the hard and patient work of peacemaking during an age of division, and as we sing the Lord's songs, we can be the light for those around us.
Those who are part of the congregation at Auburn First heard, several weeks ago, the story Jesus tells in Matthew 25 about the bridesmaids who lit the way to a wedding party with their oil lamps. There's a whole lot of darkness in the world, but we in so many ways -through words, prayers, deeds of mercy and by living a lifestyle of generosity- can help light the way so that others can find their way to the party of saving grace God is throwing in Jesus of Nazareth.
I find myself making a mental inventory of what I can't do during these days of COVID-19. I make mental lists of what I am missing, but there are still things I can do: I can keep the faith in the light no darkness can extinguish. I can love. I can look for opportunities to serve. And I can give...I can give.
Looking down the pew in that packed African church at night, there was light all around me. There is light around me -and within me- still.
It's a perfect time to be the light for others!
Grace and peace,
First United Methodist Church1203 E. Seventh Street | Auburn, IN email@example.com | 260.925.0885