Each November church-goers gather here and around the world for the annual time of remembrance for the plight of orphaned and abandoned children. Orphan and Stand Sunday each highlighting orphaned children and children in foster care lacking the basic provision and protection of a permanent and safe family. This year, as we gather, our theme is #BetheLight. I’ve been considering what that means, and often as I wrestle these things out, I am reminded of scripture put to memory as a child, simple songs like “this little light of mine” encouraging us to shine our light into the dark places of the world. So I went to scripture seeking clarity.
What does it say?
Did you know that the word for light occurs 235 times in the Bible? This includes the well-known verse Jesus proclaims to His people, ‘you are the light of the world’ in Matthew 5; where Jesus himself said, ‘I have come A LIGHT into the world, whoever believes in me would not abide in darkness.’
Though an educated woman, I am admittedly not a theologian, pastor, astronomer, or scientist. Yet, according to Wikipedia and Britannica, light is simply defined as illumination. It can also mean understanding, a small spark. Scientifically speaking, light in a complex sense is the visible electromagnetic radiation that occurs over a range of colored wavelengths…only a narrow spectrum of which are actually seen by the human eye.
Darkness is, conversely, the absence of visible light; it is considered nothing; it is nothingness…the lack of enough light to be visible. This is especially interesting in these complicated and dark times, that though we cannot always see it, the bands of light are there.
So what exactly then makes light? Light requires a source…some things make their own light (such as a lighting bug), and in this case, they are their own source of light. BUT light can also reflect off objects that are not sources of light. When light hits an object, it bounces off of that object and enters our eyes. This is how we see.
What does this mean to me simply?
To do what I can, with what I have, to God’s glory, reflecting His love and his light to all people in a way that He has called me to. For me, this is the development of a NJ used non-profit, Miriam’s Heart. Miriam’s Heart began out of a knowledge of the darkness that surrounded so many children, the darkness of those considering adoption, the darkness of trauma, neglect and abuse, the darkness around the unknowns, the darkness around the fears, the expenses, the level of parenting and support that might be needed to remove the weight of trauma and replace it with a light burden of informed and resourced parents.
And sometimes, what we do might feel very small and insignificant. But just like a firefly on a summer evening, the tiniest light can shed light into the darkest of places.
Consider the celestial speck that guided Harriet Tubman through the darkness to forge a path to freedom for hundreds. Though a woman of great moral character and faith, Harriet herself knew she was not the source of light. The star was. She was following the light. Her last words were not a reflection on her own greatness, but a reflection of her willingness to illuminate and reflect the things that matter to God. As she lay dying, her final words were, “I go to prepare a place for you,” a reflection of the light, love, and sacrifice of Jesus spoken in John 14 to comfort His disciples before He was crucified.
Harriet spent her life following a light in the sky. But Harriet not only followed a light, she also reflected light.
Harriet was just one light. Harriet did what she could, with what she had, to God’s glory. Her life reflecting God’s love and light to all people in the way He called her to. Do you think Harriet knew she’d be celebrated for her bravery each time she embarked through the darkness? I’m pretty sure she did not. What I am certain of is Harriet spent her life following the star. Leading others to the source of her confidence to take a stand against oppression and injustice, to rescue the oppressed, bind up the wounded, and declare freedom to the captive. She not only followed the light, she reflected the light.
In this way, we too, should not only follow the light, but our lives should also reflect God’s light.
This Orphan and Stand Sunday will shed light into the darkness, reflecting God’s love and lighting up the world. Each of us represents an individual spark to ignite this movement, an ability to reflect light in the world’s darkest places, to act on behalf of the most vulnerable children. Together, we will #bethelight. Proof that we are not only following the light, but reflecting of the light of the Father in this dark world.