A Bible Reading: Matthew 5. 14 - 16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill 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. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
A Thought I have always enjoyed a good bonfire, whether burning garden rubbish or at a party or celebration. Growing up, I have fond memories of family parties on Bonfire Night: jumping jacks which seemed to chase us round the garden; precariously spinning catherine wheels on a garden post; bangers let off by my brother inside a metal dustbin to magnify the bang; spectacular rockets that went soaring over the roof tops. In the innocence of childhood, I was caught up in the excitement of the party quite oblivious of the more serious undertones surrounding the treachery of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators.
Over the centuries, bonfires and beacons have been used not only for celebration but also to attract attention to a particular location. Historically, beacons were intentionally conspicuous fires lit on top of hills or cliffs, used either as a navigational aid or to communicate a threat of impending danger or invasion. As messaging signals, beacons worked on a relay system with bonfires lit one after another in succession conveying a message rapidly over a considerable distance. Perhaps the most famous example are the beacons used to warn of the approaching Spanish Armada.
Jesus used this idea of a beacon on a hill in his Sermon on the Mount. The light was to be clearly visible rather than hidden away, and it was designed to benefit everyone. Then Jesus goes on to apply the same principle to people. As individual Christians and as gathered congregations, we are also destined to be beacons, within our families, our friendships and our communities. Jesus calls us to direct others away from danger, to help them to navigate their way through life, and to point them towards a relationship with Jesus. We have a responsibility to keep our faith, both in terms of our beliefs and our actions, visible rather than hidden away.
The name, Helen, actually means torch or beacon, so I am constantly reminded of this responsibility and challenge!
Lord, help us to live up to our calling, that we might shine like lights on a daily basis bringing glory to God the Father in heaven. Amen.