I’ve had this theme of light running through my head over the last six months of 2020 and into 2021. For a long time I just considered it an off-shoot of my 2020 Word of the Year–my daily reminder to “shine.”
But today I remembered where I was less than a year ago–before we’d ever heard of COVID, when race riots and political uprisings were only read about in history books or old newspapers, most often referencing places far from the safe little bubble where I’ve lived all my life.
Less than one year ago, I was sitting on a mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee, taking it all in as I listened as if for the first time to Matthew 5:
“One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them” (Matthew 5:1-2).
With those words, I was taken right back to that day in Israel when our small study group listened as Geoff Carroll spoke The Sermon on the Mount entirely from memory, just as Jesus did 2000 years ago.
It would be impossible to pick out just one verse from this passage to focus on today if not for the light that jumps off the page for me:
Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
I can’t help but think of how Jesus’ words would have been perceived 2000 years ago.
His disciples would have understood. As they sat on that mountainside listening while darkness fell, they’d be looking out onto a landscape bereft of light. Even now, I look off into the distance toward the Sea, and can imagine how wonderful it would have been to see a little bright spot on the horizon, lighting up the blackness of the night…shining out for all to see.
Father, I know You can see where this is headed, so thank You for not requiring originality in my prayers in these “light-centric” days! Thank You for letting me shine Your light into my family, my neighborhood and beyond. Let me always be kind and loving; let me never forget to pray for all of those I’ve reached out to—and for those who reach out to me. And so, Lord, I thank you for old friends and new, and for our continued connectedness despite our differences. Thank You for giving me another day to sing Your praises as I do my best to share a bit of Your light. Amen.