Word of the Month

Light of the Spirit

November 2007

Every letter in the Sermon on the Mount has its own special weight. The words of Jesus contained in this sermon are timeless in their application. His instructions were addressed to the people, but some of them applied particularly to the disciples of the Lord: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). In reference to us, this can also be expressed another way: “Let your light so shine before people that they may recognise the work of God! Let your light so shine before your brethren that the congregation may become strong! And let us do all this in order to glorify our Father in heaven!” Every brother and every sister is to be a light in this dark time. The light that is to shine comes from the Holy Spirit. It has many different aspects, a few of which I am going to highlight.

To begin with, there is the light of faith. Each of us is to be a light of faith by which others can orient themselves – on one hand, our brethren in faith, but also those who have not yet found the Lord. Only a strong faith will be able to shine. Faith contains a great radiant power, but it must be put to use in every soul-care discussion and every time we invite people into God’s house.

Secondly, there is the light of trust in God. Whenever we speak to the brethren, whenever the ministers care for the souls, whenever we try to bring comfort to others, our boundless trust in God must always shine through. In this context the Lord Jesus indicated that we are not to hide our light, but rather let it shine. Our faith and trust in God are to shine far and wide, and be recognisable to all.

Thirdly, there is the light of love. True love is manifest when we do not make any distinctions between people. It is not at all difficult to love people with whom we get along especially well, whom we find nice. But the light of love shows itself particularly in that we also love those whom we do not find so pleasant, who are perhaps difficult, and whose thinking differs from ours. Let us not make distinctions between our brethren. This is important because all of them are children of God whom we are to love in equal measure.

Very closely related to love is mercy, which is also a beautiful light. The light of mercy is to shine brightly as well. In this context I am reminded of those Sundays when we intercede especially for the departed. My thoughts are thus directed to the unredeemed in the beyond. If we allow the light of mercy to shine there, then the path to the altar will become accessible to them, and many will be in a position to accept the sacraments and find peace for their souls. Thus the light of mercy must glow brightly – it must not be extinguished.

Let us also radiate hope. We carry the firm hope in our hearts: our Lord is coming! May this shine forth in every conversation! May it radiate through our conduct! After all, it is kindled anew in every divine service! Let us allow this light to burn even more brightly. Let us make this hope known to our surroundings: our Lord is coming – and soon! Should we give up this hope merely because we have already been waiting a few years?                     

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)