Let your light shine!

At this morning’s service, Mike Robertson preached on Matthew 17:1-13, which records the ‘Transfiguration’ of Jesus. Jesus took three of his closest friends, Peter, James and John up a mountain and at the top, he was transformed – a bright light shining from within, radiating through his body. The four of them were joined by Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest God-followers from the first part of the Bible.  The event confirmed before the astonished disciples that though a man, Jesus was more than just a man, and that his mission was part of, indeed key to, God’s drama of world salvation.

One of the key lessons Mike showed us was the fact that Peter wanted to build a shelter, or a shrine on the mountain top. He had this idea, Mike told us, of sheltering, of preserving the glory. This would probably have involved Peter staying on the mountain-top, rather than going back down to everyday life empowered by what he had seen.

Mike’s challenge was this: when we catch a glimpse of the glory of Jesus, do we try to fence it in, keeping it in a ‘holy’ part of our hearts, and not letting it shine through our whole being, through every aspect of our daily life? These days, the glory of Jesus is to be seen in those of us who are at one with him, and it visible in our love, grace, joy, compassion, courage, resolve, integrity, humility, in many other graces and in our loveliness.

Often we feel that our faith is not a bright, radiant light, but a weak, flickering candle flame which we cup our hands round to protect it.

Mike also admitted, as we all admit of ourselves, that he had in the past week thought, said and done things which did not reflect the glory, and he called us to confession as he himself confessed.

This is interesting. Words and actions we know we are responsible for, although sometimes we can do something impulsively which we later regret. We know also that we are responsible for entertaining and mulling over unhelpful thoughts.  But are we responsible for thoughts which thrust themselves uninvited into our consciousness, which we hurriedly repulse?

I can only speak for myself, but there have been times when I’ve felt bombarded by these unwelcome thoughts. ‘Where this come from?’ I’ve wondered. From myself, or from some dark spiritual source beyond me? The latter is possible. But I have come to realise that there is, as the psychologists say, a dark side in me, and it’s there that the negative thoughts are birthed. In resisting and fighting against the dark stuff, I am in fact fighting against myself.

I have learned recently that I can come to God as I am, an integrated being, acknowledging the dark stuff in me, and finding that despite my dark side I am loved and accepted as I am, that I am embraced by grace. Coming as you are, dark stuff and all, and being accepted by God in my experience sets you free to journey forward towards the goal of fulfilling God’s dream for you. When the dark side has been owned, and acknowledged, and accepted, and loved even somehow you hear its strident voice increasingly less.

Maybe this acknowledging and accepting the dark stuff in us so that we can in turn be accepted as we are is what the reflective journey of Lent which  begins on Wednesday is all about, a journey towards the day when light triumphs over darkness.

You would think it would be those whose faith is strongest, whose lives have been most healed who most effectively reflect the glory of Jesus. But this is not necessarily the case. In fact the glory is often most visible in the lives of those who are conscious of their weakness and brokenness, who have found God’s grace, who are able to show compassion and empathy and forgiveness because they have experienced it, who hold the flickering candle high.

As always, this is simply a personal reflection from one member of the Hilton Church family. Please get in touch if ever you have something you’d like to share!

John Dempster

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