Gathered in Light

People who make a difference in the world hold an unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters.  They get excited over one smile.  They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound.  They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes.  Over time, though, the small changes add up.  Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world.  –Beth Clark

I have been exploring this idea that “the opposite of what you know to be true is also true”.  There are places where I cringe, where it doesn’t seem to be true.  Where…it’s wrong.  Then I remember that it’s a reminder to be kind.  To not fight.  Especially to not fight the useless battles.  It’s a reminder to be compassionate.  To let other find their own way.  To guide, not to force our opinions and truths on to one another, because our true is not another’s true. 

If we’re honest, a lot of what we knew to be true twenty years ago is not longer true to us. Truth changes.  Funny what was so very, very true that no longer is.  We can’t change one another, or force change in others (or in ourselves for that matter).  We can only guide and be compassionate and often that is the exactly what is needed to change.  And sometimes, we don’t change others.  We change ourselves.  

We’re always growing and learning on the Path.  Often we’re meandering. We take wrong turns.  We take very wrong turns.  We feel very lost, confused, alone.  We can feel mired in the dark with no way out.  

Passage today reminds us that we’re never truly lost.  Not one of us.  We are already children of light.  We’re already Good.  We’re already kind.  We’re already true.  

That’s a powerful starting point.  We’re already light, good, kind, and true.  It’s been gifted to us by Grace.  At the same time, we get a reminder to continue to walk the Way of good and light and kind and true.  It is a reminder to continue to walk toward Grace.  

To stay awake on the journey.  To be aware on the journey.  To not get lost in the darkness.  To not give up and blindly follow where it’s easy instead of right, but to use the light to see our own way.  Our truth is that we are already light and good and kind and true.  We are already blessed.  Remember.  

It is easy to stand behind the bully and allow bullying to happen.  

It is easy to follow a mob and cast stones and taunts.  

It in easy to be mean and violent when surrounded by people who accept you and give you a place to belong when you’re mean along with them.  

It’s easy to shut people out and shut down conversation instead of listening to what isn’t true to us (perhaps that opposite of what you know to be true is also true, it’s true to another human being).  

It’s easy to put others in a box of “other”.  Not my people. Not my tribe.  Not my problem.  

It’s easy to see others as stupid, wrong, bad, and evil.  

It’s easy to ban or cancel or shut down.  

We don’t like to listen to things that aren’t true to us.  Or to things we don’t understand, but we’ll never understand if we walk away or meet with aggression.  Maybe we are afraid that we might have to change.  Maybe we’re afraid people will think we agree.   

Hard to listen.  

Harder to put down the stone once it’s in your hand.  

Really hard to walk away from a group that welcomed you to walk alone.  PAUSE.

Today is a day of Rejoicing!!!

Rejoicing for the light and the kindness and the love and the truth within us.  The blessings of light showered upon us by Grace!!!  This is a time to rejoice that we are already gifted by Grace.  We are the lights of Grace…

HYMN: RED 8 Joyful Joyful We Adore You.

It is a day of Rejoicing for the light and goodness within us.  At the same time, this blessing is also a call to practice being the person Grace asks us to be.  

Notice Jesus.  It’s always: ___, then go ___.  You are healed, now go share the news.  You are unblinded, now go see the light. You are forgiven, now go be good.  You are saved, now go help others.  

There is a call and response.  Grace is the call. We are the response.  No one HAS to “now go”.  But we, too, are called.  We are given light, goodness, kindness, love to share it.  

Not just a few individuals, but every individual, especially the ones that make us most uncomfortable.  Remember, people are people, other people are just the people we don’t know very well.  Get to know people.  

It’s easy to get lost when it’s dark and cloudy and gloomy.  But we’ve been gifted a light.  A light that we carry with us at all times.  We can brighten the dark and cloudy and gloomy.  We must simply remember and set the intention to turn our faces toward Grace at all times.  

We must remember to be on guard when we are busy, overwhelmed and frustrated.  We must remember when we are hurting or sad or grieving.  Those are the times we most easily forget that we are called to light.  In the former, it’s our work to dig out and remember the light. In the latter, it’s our work to be gathered into the light.   

It takes practice to slow down enough to choose words wisely, choose acts wisely, choose thoughts wisely.  

It’s not so much a gift as a call and response. Not a “thank you” and we move on with our lives without changing.  Taking Grace without giving grace is perhaps how we dim our lights.  

My favorite story that illuminates this idea (perhaps a familiar story) is from Les Miserables when the bishop doesn’t condemn a “bad” man back to a lifetime in prison.  Instead, he sets him free.  In all the ways.  He tells Jean Valjean: “I have bought your soul for God.”  Jean Valjean has been “saved”, but it doesn’t end there.  It’s a call and response.  You are saved, now go do Good.  The Bishop (who gets mostly cut out of most abridged versions of the novel) is one of my most favorite literary characters of all time. 

We all love Jean Valjean, but if we met him on the streets, we would cross to the other side.  Few of us would open our doors to the Jean Valjean’s of this world.  Most of the time, we condemn them as un-savable. 

We are called to live up to what God believes in us.  Light—Be Light.  Good—Be Good.  Kind—Be Kind.  Loved—Be Love.  

Perhaps we can hear a bigger call.  To not just be light, but to be the brightest beacon in the darkness we can be.  A light that stands out from the crowd.  A lantern on a dark night (what does that light look like?—is it you?).  A star on a moonless night (what does that light look like?—is it you?).  Like a giant moon in a winter sky (what does that light look like?—is it you?).  Like a streetlight on a dark winding road (what does that light look like?—is it you?).  Like a lighthouse on a stormy sea (what does that light look like?—is it you?). 

Our passage tells us that we are already the Light.  It is already IN us.  The call is to…Remember and Be.  

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