In the wilderness areas of western Australia, “circuit” pastors traveled by train to preach at the many small community churches. Most churches were located in larger towns and cities, but occasionally a new community, built near the railroad, would start to grow and ask to be on the circuit pastor’s route.
At one such community, a local landowner built a church building on the outskirts of town. The circuit pastor had led services with the local Christians but had never seen the completed church. When asked, he agreed to lead a midnight Christmas Eve service between services at two other churches. The train stopped in between with just enough time for the service and maybe an extra hour.
When the Pastor got off the train, it was still light outside. Remember, Australia is in the southern hemisphere. The heat of the day was cooling as the sun set. An elder of the church met the pastor at the train station and drove him to the new church building away from the noise and hustle of the town. He informed the minister that people would soon arrive, but he had to return home to get his family. Before he turned to leave, he handed the minister an oil lamp to light his way as he entered the church. Inside the church at the small table that would serve as pulpit and table for the Holy Communion, the pastor found a chain extending from the ceiling where he could hang the lamp on a small hook. The one lamp did little to light the church. He saw other hooks but no lamps that he could light to dispel the darkness.
Soon he saw lights in the distance as members of the congregation gathered for worship. As each family entered, they hung their lamps on the hooks where they sat. Soon the dark church was bright with light as the church filled. The pastor asked the elder why there were no lamps in the church and why every family had to bring their own. The elder told the pastor that the man who paid to have the church built also gave each family a lamp. He wanted to show that the light of Christ was not complete unless everyone came to worship. An absent family could easily be noticed by their patch of darkness in the small church. Only when all were there, would the church be completely full of light.
In the darkness of our world today, we sometimes wonder why the light of Christ seems often to be missing. We look back on earlier times and wish for things to be different. Why doesn’t God do something? Why can’t there be more light than darkness?
God sent His light into the world. Jesus came to be that light. He then gave each of his followers a portion of that light of God. Alone, one Christian cannot do much against the darkness around them, but when all Christians work together no darkness can overcome them. Why doesn’t Christ’s light shine more brightly in our world? Is there a dark space in church where Christ calls you to be His light?
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Is your Christian light shining in the darkness?