Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Light to the Nations, Made to Shine

Years ago, in a Peanuts comic strip, Lucy and Linus were talking about big questions. “Why am I here?” Lucy asked.
“To make others happy” replied Linus.
“Why are others here?”
“To make people happy.”
“I’m not happy.” (pause) “SOMEONE’S NOT DOING HIS JOB!”

In his quiet philosophical way Linus hit on a deep truth. We are here to help make life easier for others, and vice versa. In her normal self-centred way Lucy misses the point. It isn’t about us.

For people of faith, particularly the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) it is indeed a command that we bring happiness and hope to others. To cite just two examples:
It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth… (Isaiah 49:6)

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see… (Matthew 5:14-16)

We are lights, not just to our friends and neighbours, not just to those who think like us, not just to those who share our belief structures, we are lights “to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth”. WOW! We are light to the whole world? Little me? Little Atikokan? Light to the world? Really?

Yes really. We all have light to share. WE all have the gift to help heal the broken spirit, to find hope in the midst of despair, to remind each other that there is good in the world. And why would we keep that to ourselves? Why would we hide our light?

Well think back to Lucy. In all those years that Schultz wrote Peanuts Lucy was rarely a beacon of Godly light. Lucy tended to be very self-centred, wanting her needs and wants met first and foremost. It seems that is often what leads us to hide our lights. When we begin to focus on our lack, on our needs and wants, then our light is dimmed. When we focus on others our light shines brighter.

In all of Northwestern Ontario I see lights dimming. I see a need for more of us to remember why we are here. I see a need for us to take off the baskets and stand up tall. We can be lights to our neighbours near and far. We can’t make everything be “okay” but we can share the light we have been given. It is why we are here. And I believe that when we share our light, we end up getting more light in out lives. It is one of those things that grows by being spread.

And thanks be to God from whom all light flows, who shines within each of us.

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