“Look, Mama, look! Lights!” My children cheer pointing to the neighbors outside their home. On a recent walk, taking advantage of the unusually warm weather, we found a number of neighbors outside decorating their homes for the holidays.
Thanksgiving isn’t even here yet and Christmas is still over a month away, but people are cultivating places of light. I’m not writing to initiate a battle about whether any Christmas decorations should be up before Thanksgiving, but rather, I’m interested in what it means to cultivate light in the world right now.
We need this light, don’t we? In this season of increasing darkness and colder temperatures,the light brings us warmth. More importantly, however, our lives seem increasingly riddled by fear, despair, and hopelessness. The 24-hour news cycle bombards us with so many places of need facing war, violence, and injustice. Our own lives may experience challenges at home or work. Sickness and death come to those we least expect. Caring for a family member takes all our energy. Our bodies, spirits, and souls crave light. Our communities and the world desire light.
As the days shorten and the darkness descends it’s easy to remain inside our homes and only concern ourselves with our own needs. Yet, God calls us to be a people of the light. A people who shine their light for others, a people who see that darkness can always be overcome.
Since that recent walk, I’ve been intentionally thinking about how I can bring light into the world: making a meal for a family with a new baby at home; praying with my children for countries facing uncertainty; lighting a candle for a grieving family; sending a hand-written note to a friend; inviting someone to coffee so they have someone who will listen; having a conversation with someone who has different opinions than I do and really listening to them; inviting a friend to church; making a donation to a local non-profit.
Since that walk, I’ve also kept my eyes open for the people and places who are bringing light into the world: neighbors who come together to advocate for peace and justice; communities gathering for worship and pray every week; friends bringing food to families in need; families opening their homes to children in the foster care system; individuals using their voice for those without one.
The light shines in the darkness – through lights, random acts of kindness, a smile, an open embrace, and the trust that God’s light never stops shining for the world.
Where can you find light?
Where are you tangibly bringing light into the world?
Keep your eyes open.
The light is always shining.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website or follow her work on Facebook.