Hiding Your Light

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16

Often times in the Independent or Old Catholic Movement, our very existence and or simple presence is the heart of our ministry. It’s not a ministry meant to dazzle, nor one that makes lots of money, nor one that gathers lots of people in the pews, nor even one that usually engenders respect or acceptance. No, it more likely than not, doesn’t accomplish these things. It almost always isn’t a ministry where one can tout great success or even show much accomplishment at all, in worldly standards that is.

However, showing the world that there’s “another way to be catholic” is the kind of ministry of presence that can empower people and give them hope and courage in a world where the current religious climate can often be hostile or worse yet, abusive, and that’s exactly the kind of ministry we are most often called to.

Nelson Mandela said it well: “And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

When we were baptized and confirmed, and later perhaps ordained and or consecrated, we were charged with sharing the light of the Gospel message, a message of faith, hope, and love, in this dark and broken world. We were charged to do our best to carry that light to the dark corners of our society, to the dark corners of our hearts, and to help others to find their way.

It isn’t always comfortable, it isn’t always safe, and it most certainly isn’t good for “business as usual” but it is necessary, if we are to be true to our calling and faithful to our Lord. It’s the cross we are called to, it’s the cross we carry, it’s the cross of sacrifice, and it always calls for sacrifice.

The paradox is that, it is in the very act of sacrifice that we find abundance! It is in that experience of dying to ourselves and living for others, that we find life! And it is in the simple ministry of presence, that simple sacrifice of being who God made us to be, that we find love, bravery, and power, power to change lives and to change the world.

Our presence, or lack there of, speaks volumes to those around us. We may never know who’s life we might touch and change, but we will change lives, one way or the other, for the better or for the worse.

What kind of ministry of presence are you offering in your life, or are you hiding your light under a basket? Do you stand in the darkness and let your light shine for all to see or have you hid it for fear of drawing attention to your faith and or out of the fear of the sacrifice that might be demanded of you because of your faith?

A modern musical artist, Jewel Kilcher, wrote a song entitled “Life Uncommon” that speaks to freedom, love, bravery, and courage to be part of the solution and not part of the problem by no longer giving strength to those things which we wish to be free from, by virtue of our silence. It was a great success on the pop charts for quite a while. Here are the lyrics:

“Life Uncommon”
By Jewel Kilcher

Don’t worry mother, it’ll be alright,
And don’t worry sister,
Say your prayers and sleep tight,
It’ll be fine lover of mine,
It’ll be just fine.

Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom,
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from,
Fill your lives with love and bravery,
And you shall lead a life uncommon.

I’ve heard your anguish,
I’ve heard your hearts cry out,
We are tired, we are weary, but we aren’t worn out,
Set down your chains, ’til only faith remains,
Set down your chains.

And lend your voices only to sounds of freedom,
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from,
Fill your lives with love and bravery,
And you shall lead a life uncommon.

There are plenty of people who pray for peace,
But if praying were enough it would have come to be,
Let your lips enslave no one,
And the heavens will hush themselves to hear,
Our voices ring out clear with sounds of freedom, sounds of freedom.

Come on you unbelievers,
Move out of the way,
There is a new army coming,
And we are armed with faith,
To live, we must give, To live.

And lend our voices only to sounds of freedom,
No longer lend our strength to that which we with to be free from,
Fill your lives with love and bravery,
And we shall lead…

Lend our voices only to sounds of freedom,
No longer lend our strength to that which we with to be free from,
Fill your lives with love and bravery,
And we shall lead a life uncommon.

When we hide our light or mute our voice, our ministry of presence fades and we actively give way to the darkness. It is in that moment where we indeed lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from, that which oppresses us, and oppresses others. When we hide our light we enable the darkness to exist and to take over where we’ve failed to let the liberating light of the Gospel blaze – due to our own insecurities and or our own fears.

Our ministry of presence, while sometimes seemingly inactive or even insignificant, is amazingly empowering and encouraging. Just letting the world see us for who and what we are, and what we are about, lets our light shine brightly, and that light can illumine the darkest of places throughout the world and the darkest moments deep in our own souls.

Who will be that ministry of presence in the world or in your community? If not you, then who? If now now, then when? When it’s convenient? Sacrifice is never convenient. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from by being silent or by hiding your light under the proverbial basket. Set down your chains until only faith remains and you will lead a life uncommon!

Here I am Lord, send me.

Amen!