In the alleyway alongside our home, the sun’s morning light had cast a warm glow on a small batch of weeds growing along a concrete wall. It was such a quiet and majestic moment that I couldn’t help but stop and stand in awe.
I have walked this alley countless times. I have swept the trash and broken glass up more than I’d like to think. And I have most certainly pulled up my fair share of weeds along this wall.
I have picked up after dogs and hosed down after humans. I have awoken junkies from their nightmares, feed the homeless sandwiches from out kitchen, and I even witnessed a stolen car get a new set of license plates, which I assume were stolen too.
Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought this place as a sacred space where God’s light would break through. But yet, here it was. And I was blessed enough to witness it in all it’s golden glory.
Yes, You are the light of the world. So let your light shine for everyone to see.
Everything looks better in the right light.
During my days in advertising, I learned how to use light to make an emotional connection to the product. When shooting car commercials, we often waited hours for what was called “magic hour” – the time just after the sun had set and the sky was painted alive in vivid colors.
In our first house, Kathleen and I used warm, low-watt bulbs in our only bathroom to disguise all missing tiles, floorboards, and other unsightly blemishes that embarrassed us. We quickly discovered that in this soft-glow our human flaws seem to diminish in the mirror too.
When I was teenager I worked in a French restaurant that had a room that was only lit by candles. It was romantic to say the least. But had they turned the overhead lights on – revealing the cracked walls, stained carpet, and the all too common cockroach – I doubt anyone would have chosen to eat in that restaurant at all.
Think about it, God’s first official act was calling light into being. And then declaring it good!
Like God, light is both beautiful and mysterious. It can be separated into many colors but yet remains one. So it should be of no surprise that Jesus uses the analogy of light to describe his divinity in light of his humanity. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Jesus is the divine light that dispels the darkness and illumines our way. When life is cold or scary, he is warm and comforting. And, of course, his divine presence exposes the dangers that might trip us up. He is the light that is essential to our growth and wellbeing.
As I sought to take a picture of the glowing weeds, I began to see Jesus in a new light. With its dirt and filth, an alleyway is a place we tend to avoid – but Jesus never did. He does not try to avoid those places, but instead shines his light on the broken glass and weeds – and on us. In his light we are able to see ourselves differently, the way God sees us, beautiful in our brokenness and filth.
Lent is a time to not only walk in the darkness but to do so as the light of Christ. He was the one who tells you that, “You are the light of the world. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to the entire house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Prayer: God of Light and Love, illuminate my mind to Christ, and his Spirit who came to us in the form of fire on Pentecost. Let me use the gift of this day to follow their lights, as I look forward to eternal light in God's kingdom where “Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light” (Rev. 22:5). Amen.