Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 22nd November 2020.
Light tends to have positive connotations. Words like gentle, easy, transparent, tender, happy and amusing come to mind. Whereas darkness is associated with gloominess, evil, sadness. We have the expression ‘seeing the light’, meaning that we have learned something helpful, useful or positive. We also have a phrase about ‘being in a dark place’, meaning that things are not going well. Light can relate to all the good things we experience in life and darkness to our bad experiences.
Some of you reading this reflection may recall me saying on more than one occasion during a sermon, that one of my favourite passages in the New Testament is in St. Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:16, King James Version). Jesus encourages us to do good works. We are to be good Christians, loving our neighbours, and living and leading by example. In that way, by doing something positive and making others feel better, we may encourage others to do likewise. Albert Schweitzer, the famous theologian, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician, who died in 1965, once said: ‘Example is not the main thing in influencing others – it is the only thing.’
In a spiritual context, light is sometimes used as a metaphor for Jesus Christ shining within our hearts, being a conscious part of our daily being and guiding us in all we do. Some of you reading this will be familiar with the painting ‘The Light of the World’ by the Victorian artist Holman Hunt. (There is a copy of the painting in Longthorpe Church). It depicts a dark night, with Jesus standing at the door of a cottage, holding a shining lantern, and knocking on the door. The cottage is overgrown with weeds, and there is no handle on the outside of the door. The painting is based on a passage in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). The point about there being no handle on the outside of the door is that, if we want the light of Christ to come into our lives, to be our guide and comforter, we have to make a conscious decision to open the door to him. He does not force his way into our lives, but wants us to invite him in.
During the current pandemic, a lot of people are in dark places. At best they may feel fed up and bored. At worst they may be coping alone with serious illness and not getting the treatment they need. And there will be many shades of darkness in between. Allowing the light of Christ into our lives during difficult times can make a difference to how we feel.
A lot of people must be wondering at the moment if there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. The darkness of the lockdowns and the restrictions against visiting relatives, particularly those in nursing homes or hospitals, has affected many people badly. We regularly read in the newspapers about the increase in mental health illness.
I am sure we all know someone who has some degree of darkness in their lives at the moment. When we contact someone, who says they are struggling with the current situation, I think it is our duty to try and bring a bit of light into their lives, by being positive and reminding them of all the good things in life. There is a Chinese proverb: ‘Don’t curse the darkness – light a candle’. There must be something positive we can each do to get us through the current situation, to cheer ourselves up or to cheer up others who may be feeling low.
Simply counting our blessings can make us feel better. And we can make others feel better, too, if we can pick up the phone, send an email, or a card, or a bunch of flowers, or a book, or a jigsaw, or whatever, to help them take their minds off their worries for a little while and to let them know that they are not alone in whatever shade of darkness they find themselves in.
So let’s all think how, during the coming week, we might be able to shed a bit of light into the lives of those whom we each know to be struggling with some degree of darkness at the moment.
‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’