Even a Match - Sunday, December 3rd
“You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:14 (ESV)
"I want what you have," he said. He repeated those words several times on the drive from Hardin to Crow Agency.
He'd been on the streets for a while trying to medicate away his pain with another drink... and then another. This wasn't the first time we had met under such circumstances. And like the other time, he had had enough to drink and was ready to go home.
So up the Little Bighorn Valley we drove... and talked. And the desire, "I want what you have," popped up here and there, seemingly randomly.
It was not until we drove up to his door that he explained what it was I had, and he wanted. "You have a glow. I want that."
So, we sat and talked some more, this time about Jesus, which led to months (and eventually years) of reading the Bible together.
My eyes are not as good as his, so I can't say I ever saw the light the way he did, but his trips to Hardin's streets became less, and he seemed to gain peace. When his walk in this life finally ended, he seemed ready to go home to Jesus.
That evening in his driveway was the first time I realized what Jesus meant when he said, "You are the light of the world."
He was not using a metaphor or a figure of speech. You really are the light of the world in Christ, because the Light, Christ Jesus, shines into you and through you. So, St. Paul reminds us, "Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).
Being light defines our life and work quite differently than that of the missionaries and evangelists who come to our Native communities for a few days to try to "save" people and get them to "accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior."
To be light is to become part of the environment, part of the community. Every day, light enters our world and brings life. As we become part of our Native communities, the light of Christ, that shines from us, brings life to our neighbors. We shine in the darkness of this broken world, just as a lamp in a room gives light, not by force or conditions, but freely, to all, just by being there.
Our shining may not be a big deal to us. They are the simple things, things we don’t notice: a kind word, a hug, a shared tear, tying a child’s shoelaces, a blessing of the Lord's peace, a smile, a prayer. Each of these is light. Even a match can cast significant light and hope to one lost in a cave. In our light, great or small, others can sense the Father has come near them today.
Then, those in the Light become light, as well. And so, the Light grows in our Native communities, and "the darkness did not overcome Him." (John 1:5).
Heavenly Father, you have sent Your Son, the Light who shines for all in the world. By that Light, you have made us light by His saving work and the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit. Please continue to cause us to shine ever more brightly into our dark and dying world so that all who are lost may see the Light and be drawn to You forever. Amen.
Rev. Dan Jacobs
Crow Agency, Montana