From The Rectory – Let Your Light Shine
School holidays have now begun but during the last two weeks of term I had the opportunity to spend time in both Creeting and Stonham primary schools; time to observe and talk with some of the youngsters. Despite all the challenges of the past two years or so, the children I met were a joy to share with. Of course, they have problems, like the rest of us, but they were positive and enthusiastic; enjoying what they were doing.
This reminded me of another visit, another encounter with youngsters. Twenty years ago, we spent two weeks visiting southern Chile (a country only recently emerging from the shadows of dictatorship). During our stay we met a number of young people, mainly students, keen to practice their English. They were also keen to talk about their country, to show us signs of growth and development; to tell us the good news and speak of their hopes for the future.
Last weekend I conducted two baptism services; toddlers setting out on their journeys of faith. A baptism is a good news story, the story of new life given by God, being committed to God. Baptism is also the opportunity to speak good news; the Good News of God’s love; especially when the baptismal candidate brings 30, 40, 50 or more of his or her family and friends; many of whom may never have set foot in a church for years, if ever. (Thinks, perhaps we need more clergy under the age of 3 years!)
Good news; news of hope, new life. With these thoughts in mind, I turned to a concordance and looked up ‘Good News’. Unlike the daily news bulletins, the concordance gave 23 positive references, and only one negative.
At the end of each baptism, I present the newly baptised with a lit candle, the symbol of the light of Christ in them. They are then sent out with the following words Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father. These are words we would all do well to remember since, whether our baptism was yesterday, or yesteryear, this is our commission too. It is all too easy to dwell on the bad news, forgetting or never seeing, the good. Yet if we open our eyes and ears, there is more light than gloom. Our call is to reflect the light of Christ, even into the gloomiest corners.