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The Light of the World

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  -John 8:12

There is no denying we are living in some dark days right now. On Ash Wednesday, there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and no reported deaths. Today, just 4 weeks later, there are over 46,500 cases in the U.S., with 600 deaths. Across the world, more than 17,100 people have been killed by the virus. We are being instructed to “shelter in place” just to give our medical personnel and facilities a fighting chance to deal with the ever-growing demand for services. Many persons are experiencing a loss of income and many businesses a loss of revenue. Travel is at a standstill. More and more people are isolated every day. Yes, these are dark days indeed.

John reports that we can find light for our lives in Jesus Christ. The Message translation says it this way: Jesus once again addressed them, “I am the world’s light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” Just like we stumble around in the darkness when we don’t turn on the light, so we lose our way in daily life when everything grows dark in the world. Jesus is the one who brings us light in the darkness. We do not have to lose our way, for we find our way in Jesus.

I don’t mean to sound simplistic or appear to be wearing rose-colored glasses, but our claim and our faith as Christians is that in Jesus, we find light for our lives. This light helps us stay positive even in the darkest days. This light gives us hope in the future. This light helps to dispel worries and despair. Our trust is in the one who overcame death and is the light of the world.

And we can use this affirmation in these dark days to help others see the way forward. We can share our faith with others by reaching out through phone and text and email, offering a positive word of encouragement. We may be physically distancing but we can be virtually connecting, sharing the light of Jesus with others. I’m remind of a story of Alexander Papaderos, a teacher on the island of Crete. He recounts how someone once asked him, “What is the meaning of life?” to which he responded, “Do you really want to know? I will tell you.”

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. "When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine -- in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world -- into the black places in the hearts of men -- and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."

May we all shine the light of the world into the dark places we encounter, not only in these troubling times, but in all the days of our lives.

-Bob Winstead 

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What will we make of it?

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16

There are things we can control, such as whether to have coffee or tea, and there are things that out of our hands, like the ocean. Currently we are all in a state of waiting and living well outside of our normal routines. We are doing this in order to protect. Sheltering in place is our new way of life. What will we make of it?

The Bible is filled with people who had little to no control over their situations and were looking for refuge. In the Book of Ruth, a widow decides to head back home to Israel. She had lost her husband, sons, and the house. It was the worst of times. Her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth, chooses to follow her. It has always fascinated me how willing Ruth was to leave the place where she had grown up and travel into the unknown. I find a clue as to why in Ruth’s words to her mother-in-law Naomi. There she makes what I see as a declaration of faith. She says “your God will be my God.” I don’t know that she fully understood what that meant or how much God’s presence and power had and would affect her life. She sought refuge, and the closest thing to that was something she saw in Naomi. God’s people find shelter in faith.

I heard some neighborhoods are placing a candle in their windows. Seamstresses are making medical masks. A mom created a paper prayer chain. The calls are made asking “How are you doing? Can I get your groceries for you?” And the song of faith must keep rising up to let the life-giving love of God flow out of the believer’s hearts. We aren’t all in the same place, but we are all sheltering in faith.

My daughter and I were talking and she suddenly said “I have to go; my phone is going to cut off soon.” I said “I love you. Call me when your phone is working again.” She said, “I will!”

I’m a long way from my daughter who lives in Brooklyn, so every phone call is a comfort, but it’s temporary. Our phones and conversations have limits, so as I think about that, I turn to God and I find my shelter there.


Holy and Blessed Lord,

In your keeping there is shelter from the storm, and in your mercy there is comfort for the sorrows of life. Hear our prayers and grant us your presence to keep the fire of faith kindled in our hearts. You are our refuge and strength. Lighten our darkness with your love.

-Martha Aenchbacher

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