Every summer I look forward to my annual camping trip to Wales - a couple of weeks away from electrical appliances and gadgets, cooking my food over a fire, hopefully something that I have caught from my kayak during the day. There is one little gadget though, which I don’t go camping without: a small, pocket sized, solar torch. During the daytime, my trusty torch soaks in the sunlight, so that when night comes, I can lie in my sleeping bag and read. No batteries required. No winding needed. My little torch absorbs the sun’s rays and returns them to my chosen book at the flick of a switch. Fabulous!
Jesus said to the ordinary folk who gathered to hear his teaching, “You are the light of the world. No-one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.” In today's terminology: we are torches. We are called, as human beings made in God’s image, to shine God’s light into the world around us. As usual, Jesus doesn’t define what he understands this shining our light to involve. He leaves it to each of us to work that out in our own situation.
Whatever it is that we are going to be shining into the world around us, we are going to need to get ourselves charged up on a regular basis. If we are going to shine God’s love, we need to soak in God’s love. If we are going to distribute God’s forgiveness, we need to accept God’s forgiveness. If we are going to live out Jesus’ wisdom, we need to learn Jesus’ wisdom.
Being part of a worshipping community is one way that we can recharge our batteries. When a place of worship is doing its job well, it is a place where we can experience the light of God in our own lives, in order to then shine that light for the benefit of others.
When I’m camping I can’t just toss my solar torch out of my tent in the morning and trust that it will charge from simply being outside. I have to make sure that it’s solar cells are facing towards the sun. To do that I have to prop it up at the right angle and move it round as the sun travels across the sky. In the same way, attending worship doesn’t automatically fill us with God’s light. We will recharge our lights much more effectively if we are purposeful about how we soak up God’s rays.
How are your batteries doing?