A contemporary song calls us to "push back the dark."
I was listening to that song one morning while traveling from Kennewick to Pasco and watching the sunrise. It was dark, and the sun was barely visible as a glint behind a cloud, but I knew that in a short time the sun would "push back the dark" and it would be a beautiful and bright day.
Thinking about that song reminded me of one we sang as children and is still sung by many children:
"This little light of mine,
Never miss a local story.
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine ..."
Maybe you remember it too. Like the newer song, it encourages us to be the "light of the world," to let our light shine so that all people will see the presence of God in our lives and be drawn into God's presence.
We are entering the season of Advent: A season when homes, trees, yards and businesses are decorated with lighted displays. This season reaches its climax Dec. 25, Christmas Day. But before that happens, there is Christmas Eve, one of the most popular church service times of the year.
I think that one of the reasons this is true is that we gather in the midst of the darkest time of year, share the joy of the birth of the Christ child and then the lights are turned off. The light from the altar is then passed from one to another throughout the worship space. In the end, we witness the "pushing back of the dark" as a warm golden glow of candlelight fills the space from one end to another. All because we allow our "light of mine" to shine.
Think what it would be like if everyone gathered in that space chose not to have their candle lit. The darkness would remain, and there would be little joy or life to celebrate.
I remember sitting in those worship services, surrounded by friends and fellow believers. What would happen if we didn't blow out our candles at the end of the service, but took that light into our hearts and lives, and dared to carry it out into the darkness of our world?
Jesus says we are a city on a hill, a light in the midst of darkness, and to let our light shine so that all people will see God's light in our lives and be drawn to his presence (Matthew 5:14-16). Wouldn't that be a wonderful gift to give to the world?
It is, in fact, the gift God has given. All we need to do is open our eyes and hearts and receive it. Then the "peace that passes all understanding" will envelop our lives now and forever.
Be that light. Push back the dark.
-- Rev. Douglas Huston is a United Methodist minister on incapacity leave. He attends the Riverview United Methodist Church in Pasco. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or firstname.lastname@example.org.