Dr. RB McFee
Stonehenge Solstice Sunrise - Royalty free media - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Summer_Solstice_Sunrise_over_Stonehenge_2005.jpg
Stonehenge is one of my favorite places. Not sure why, and like so many people with degrees in history, or the sciences, debate still exists about the purpose of placing huge stones on the Salisbury Plain.
I like to think of it as a light focusing calendar that reminds us to pay attention to the sun, and to look up admiringly, with awe, at the Light of God as seen through His Creation, and even manmade objects. We, too, are His Creation, and I wonder, if we, like Stonehenge, or music, or the smiles of strangers, do we inspire others to seek a God of Light worthy of awe?
“You are the sunshine of my life, that’s why I’ll always be around.”
Sunshine of my life – Stevie Wonder
Like Stevie, one wonders are we the sunshine of someone’s life? And if so, is it just the “someone’s” who we love, or like, share an affinity, or perhaps identify with? What about God’s children we just met, or those who find a different path or different set of priorities, or different take on the same ones we value? Can we add a little sunshine to their life, too? Is their darkness, their need for Light any less than ours?
Put differently, do we see people as lined up on one side or the other? Or do we see folks struggling with the darkness as if we are all one in Christ, where maybe, just maybe we can share a candle of hope together and find our way forward in the Love of our Lord, no matter how hard the world tries to darken our thoughts, our days, our lives?
Put bluntly, is someone better off for seeing us come, or bidding us farewell? Is the amount of Light they perceive the same, regardless of our coming or going? Or is a brightness added to their day when we head towards them?
Candles can’t stay flaming if there’s no oxygen, and we all know folks who suck it right out of the room. But before we treat ourselves like a rescue tank blowing O2 all over the place, energizing all who encounter us – is that true? Do we keep the candles burning?
With conversations about the solstice and days where the hours of light exceed the hours of darkness, I couldn’t help but think on what it means to be a light in the darkness.
And let’s make no mistake about it – there is darkness. I suspect that has been the reality of mankind for years. But unlike folks in the past, we have read the books, and learned the stories – Biblically and historically; we can and should see how the story ends when we behave differently than, or when we share the Light.
But this is precisely when Jesus expects us to dial up the Light He filled us with, to dig deep even when we don’t want to. The darker the world, the more He expects us to get it together, to be together, and become a lot of candles sitting as one, the bonfire, the beacon that says we are His Light.
Our Christian cousins the Quakers believe we have an inner Light that can emerge if we allow it; and through our lives can illuminate our surroundings by goodness, making brighter the days of others.
At a time when it is easy to get caught up in the things that separate us, perhaps the Solstice can serve as a time when we step back, take inventory of our light and darkness – the times when we reflected Jesus’ Light into a weary world, and the times when folks might have been better off not in our company.
Our reflection of Jesus’ Light, and Love in the world isn’t predicated on the good works we do, if love isn’t part of the effort. He told us that through a variety of scriptures, and stories. And while good works, helping others, advancing causes that matter, is an important outreach, even expectation of Christians, it isn’t the work that shines, but the Love that powers our efforts.
“1 If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but hane not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
1 Corinthians 13: 1 – 5
The Light of Jesus illuminates because it is fueled by His Love. So must ours. Easier said than done? Of course! You and I are mere mortals. But He knew that, just as He knows us, and what we are capable of doing at this very moment.
That said, approaching the Solstice and entering the day of longest light I wonder, does the Lord, our ultimate Flashlight, have to work harder, or not so much, with all of us who follow His Son? Because what follows from the Solstice is the start of shorter days, darker days; solar and metaphorically speaking!
If there was no sunlight, would our light, our Savior’s Light burn brightly enough through us to make up the difference and keep the world from being totally dark?
So if our candles haven’t been shining brightly enough, let’s go grab a match and use the solstice as a restart point.
Today I read in the first book of the Narnia series something Aslan said to His young assistant Digory
“So this land can have a bright morning before any clouds can come over the sun.”
CS Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew
Can we be “the bright morning before the clouds” arrive in someone’s life? And in the process remind them Jesus is alive and active in the world through us?
God willing we will take the instructions of Jesus seriously….
16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”
God’s Light shines brightly, even between the boulders of Stonehenge. Does our light shine between the cracks of darkness, and the fortresses people build around each other in an ever increasingly polarized world? Can He count on us to glorify Him? Can Jesus count on us to reflect the Love-Light he lived, and died trying to teach us?
Perhaps it starts with a smile, or a kind word, a hug, an acknowledgement that someone matters, an email, a visit; whatever way our love of Christ and His Love of others bursts from our inner selves to others, that is the light He asks us to shine forth.
The Summer Solstice: Are we enough light when the day is over, and the darkness comes?