Lighthearted thoughts

The Bible has a lot of sayings about light. Right there at start – “And God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3) The Psalms are infused with it – “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1) The prophets proclaimed it – “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)

The gospels are filled with it – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Quakers are particularly fond of talking about the Light as another name for God. George Fox, one of the founders of the Quaker movement, talked about walking in the light, waiting in the light, and turning to the light.

Many Friends like to think of God as a kind of eternal, impersonal, universal force of nature, a Light which has always existed in all times and places, which good people (like us) have always recognized and would no doubt recognize in any new place we happen to find ourselves.

If that’s how you like to see the Light, that’s OK. I often have a different take on things, and I’m stubborn enough to keep talking about the Light of Christ. In my work as pastor of a Quaker meeting and part-custodian of an aging meetinghouse, I have a lot to do with light in many different forms.

The light comes in through windows, which need to be washed every now and then. Sometimes a window needs to be replaced when a frame rots out, or when a kid on a bicycle shoots a BB at one of our historic windows and cracks it. Those old panes of historic Quaker glass over the main door to the worship room have swirls and bubbles that distort the light in funny ways.

The first year I came to the meeting I currently serve, it seemed as though half the light bulbs in the building were burned out. I went through the meeting room, the Sunday School, the offices, the dining room and hallways replacing bulbs everywhere – I swapped out over 100 in the first 2 months alone.

And of course, since we’re concerned about energy conservation and stewardship of the earth, whenever we replace a bulb, we put in an LED which uses 10% of the electricity of the old ones.

God may be the Light, and the Light may shine through us, but sometimes the bulbs and windows need maintenance.

Earlier this month I’ve been doing one of my favorite annual chores – putting up the Christmas decorations around the meetinghouse. We have a big Christmas tree in the worship room, and as I wound the strings of lights around it I wondered if that might be a different metaphor for what God does – God as the maintenance person, the one who hangs the lights and tests them and replaces the burned-out bulbs before standing back to admire the final effect.

In all of the windows facing the street (our meetinghouse is on a corner) we have electric window candles which turn on at dusk and off at dawn. People in the neighborhood describe us as “that church with all the lights in the windows”. Not a bad way for us to be known – I sometimes think we should keep them there year round, as a symbol of hope, as a symbol of peace.

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2 Responses to “Lighthearted thoughts”


  1. 1 Janette Carson December 7, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    Keep them there year round, as a symbol of hope, as a symbol of peace.

  2. 2 Phineke Brugman December 11, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    this little light of mine, let is shine all year..


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All of the posts on this blog are my own personal opinion. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the members and attenders of the meeting where I belong or any organization of Friends. For more information, click on the "About Me" tab above.

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