Shine your Light: Regular Testimonies
Have you ever been sitting in your home at night with the lights all on, perhaps watching television or putting a puzzle together, reading a book or eating dinner, when the lights suddenly
And there you are – in the dark.
You wait a moment.
Wait – hoping that the lights will just flicker back on.
Wait – hoping that you can get back to watching Dancing with the Stars or Stranger Things or Wheel of Fortune.
Wait – hoping that you can eat your dinner in the light.
Until you realize the power is, indeed, out for a little while, who knows how long! And you look for a lantern to light your way – even around your home, a place you know well when it is lit up. Once you find your lantern or flashlight, you feel confident to remember what you knew. You feel confident walking the up the stairs with the light leading the way. Eating in the dark is manageable with the lantern on the table in front of you.
Paul writes in his second letter to the church in Thessalonica, I am thankful to hear of your faith growing, your love increasing, and God moving among you. Church planter, Paul writes that he has heard of the hard times that the church and her people have fallen on. The initial fervor of the church has waned, and morale is low. They thought Jesus would come back immediately, and Jesus has not yet returned. Joiners of the movement have different ideas about how best to share the message with others. From the moment, there were people in the church, there was conflict. And Paul did not suppress or avoid those distinctions, additionally, he called people first to gratitude and faithfulness.
From these earliest days, the church has set aside time in the liturgical calendar to remember those who have gone before us in the faith, called All Saints. Like Paul, we lift up with gratitude and look at the light their lives shed. We understand that saints are all those who reflect the light of Jesus. “The word, saint, is never single. It is always plural. In Greek language, it is never the single noun but the plural noun that is used for saints(1).” Like in the hymn, For All the Saints, we think of saints collectively, all of you all who have let God’s light shine through you.
In our remembrance this year, we remember 24 people who have shared the light of God with others. As we remember those who have died in the last year, we remember seven who we called mother, four called father, one brother, three sisters, one cousin, two we called aunt, one friend, one fiancé, two children, one grandfather, and one husband. Some of whom had multiple relationships at once.
As we remember this morning, some of us come with contentment remembering with satisfaction, remembering who our loved one has been. Others of us bring sadness in missing the presence of that individual. We may feel both. Still others, remember those not listed here in the bulletin. Be gentle with each other. Each of these we remember is precious to us, shining light today as we remember them. Their lives provide a witness.
Shining your light is a regular witness like the steady stream of encouragement that Fran Bryan gave to her children, grandchildren, great-children, and family in the church to find hope in God, especially when times are hard.
Shining your light is gentle like the smile that Ruth Hicks gave acquaintances and friends to let them know they were welcome here at church and at the Dutchway as a waitress where she worked.
Shining your light is faithful like joyful attendance that Vinny Rucinski offered as serveing at the sound board bringing skill and humor.
Shining your light is making others feel welcome and included like Lana Gill did through our SOS Ladies and her own home with family and friends, even in a conversation.
Shining your light is the quiet and faithful witness of Cindi McCall, ready to give a hand and eager to be a part of the ministry of the church.
And we could go on.
Lanterns are needed more in the darkness, than they are in the light. The light of God shines most brightly through you when times are difficult. Rev. Jane Harner was the first woman ordained in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference on May 19th, 1957. We were Methodists then. Jane was married to Bill Harner, also an elder. As she told the tale herself, Bishop Corson opposed the ordination of women, but felt compelled by the approval of the conference to proceed. Appointment, however, was totally in his purview, so he proceeded to appoint Jane and Bill (who had children at the time) to opposite ends of the conference, forcing her to take an immediate leave to keep the family together. Although Jane became a local elder in 1961, she only received her probationary membership in 1978 and her membership in full connection until 1980. This was because she was not appointed to serve a church until 1977. Twenty-three years later, her journey was completed.(2) Rev. Dr. Harner served Hellertown, one of my previous congregations, Hellertown: St Paul, and shone the light of Christ.
It has been the light of the lives of others to show us the way, to give us hope and faith on the days when ours is fleeting. And everyone has those times. We shine the light of God for one another. When we tell the stories of where we see God moving, we shine our lights in darkness. Darkness is inevitable. There are times in all of our lives in which we lose power, feel adrift, or are looking for something bigger than ourselves.
Our lives are already lights. The question is what are they illuminating? Are they illuminating the way of fear and dismay or do we testify to the love we have known through Jesus? Our stewardship includes regular witness and testimony. Where are you letting God’s light shine through you and sharing how your life has been changed? Once a week, share with someone where you see God. Did you see God move in the new people you met at Trunk or Treat when the rain stopped and people who have never been, came? Shine the light and share it with a neighbor. Did you see God’s fingerprints in creation as the sunrise painted the sky? Shine the light – tell a friend. Did you see God move when you prayed for a miracle and God showed up changing your heart to open you up to how God might be differently present, and then you were content with the progress. Jump for joy! Shine the light and tell everyone!
We have lights who have shone us the way to God, and now we too, how others by shining the light of Christ for all of us.
This is the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen.
(2) Archives of Phoenixville UMC shared by Rev. R. Mark Young.
Old Testament Lesson: Psalm 149
Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters and their nobles with chains of iron,
to execute on them the judgment decreed.
This is glory for all his faithful ones.
Praise the Lord!
New Testament Lesson: 2 Thessalonians 1: 1-4, 11-12
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.
To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Meditation: Sunday, November 3 through Saturday, November 9
Sunday: “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.” Psalm 149:1. As we remember those who have died in the last year, may the gathered body bring you hope as we lift up the lives of those who are precious. Pray for those who remember and cherish the memory of a loved one today.
Monday: “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.” Psalm 149:3. We are called to give testimony and praise. How have you praised God’s name in song and dance? Let your praises joyfully come forth!
Tuesday: “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.” Psalm 149:4. On this day of election in the United States, pray for the democratic process and the movement of the Holy Spirit among God’s people.
Wednesday: “Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.” Psalm 149:5. Finally, a scriptural passage that calls us to sit on the couch! As you sit on the couch, how are you sharing God’s story of goodness? Even in our homes, we are called to share God’s goodness and glory.
Thursday: “To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith,” 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Pray who are seeking to step out in a new way. May God fulfill every intention and desire with faithfulness.
Friday: “We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3. Consider that your testimony is in the love that you show for one another. How is your love increasing?
Saturday: “Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.” 2 Thessalonians 1:4. When you experience God’s steadfastness in midst of affliction, how have you testified? God calls us to share that love with others.