Written by Rev. Rebecca Reeder, Associate Pastor, Sewickley Presbyterian Church
As I sit here thinking about what to write, I hear the joyful sounds of children on the playground at Edgeworth Elementary School in the distance. I’m sitting on my couch by the large front window original to this hundred-year-old house, with my dog Kieran curled up by my feet. And though it’s drafty here, the sun beats in on us both, warming my face and cheering my soul.
Sunlight is a rarity in Pittsburgh on these cold winter days. Did you know Pittsburgh gets fewer sunlit days per year than any other major city in the United States? A doctor once told me that everyone in Pittsburgh should be taking extra vitamin D in the winter to fight against seasonal depression. It feels compounded this year by the pandemic keeping us inside and isolated from community.
As I soak in one of these rare, sun-filled afternoons, I’m reminded of the last lines of Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem:
“…When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it
If only we're brave enough to be it.”
Between Gorman’s words and the sun beams beating on my skin, it feels like a touch from the One who is the Light of the world, Jesus Christ the Light who is indeed always there, always present. Yes, there is always light, and He comforts and holds us even in the darkest of days or moments, and calls us to live in Him, to be the light of the world. For, just as the apostles John and Matthew proclaim,
“in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4-5)
“You are the light of the world. A city on a city cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
These verses from Matthew’s gospel took on particular meaning when I was in 9th grade on a Youth Choir retreat. They were the theme verses for the weekend, and we were asked to ponder the ways that God might be calling each of us to let our light shine before others. When I returned home, I found out that while I was gone my aunt had somewhat suddenly passed away. She had been in treatment for breast cancer, but therapy had been going well. So her stroke and subsequent quick death came as a shock to our family.
I remember being devastated that I wasn’t present with the rest of my family when the news came of my aunt’s passing. I was angry with God that I was off having fun, singing and making a joyful noise to the Lord with friends. Yet then it quickly dawned on me that while my aunt was going to be with God, I was doing the one thing she most cherished in this life – singing and praising her Lord, Jesus. In that moment I knew I was exactly where God wanted me to be, and
I felt a strong answer to the question from the retreat – I was meant to let the light of Christ shine before others through music and worship.
So, my question for you on this sunny day in the midst of winter and the metaphorically dark days we’ve lived through this past year:
How is Jesus, the Light of the world, calling you to be the light shining before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven?