Stained Glass

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The Pope said it best yesterday:

“The saints weren’t perfect, but they allowed God to touch their lives.”

To put it another way: they were like candles; their lives shone of Christ’s love.

Last evening, during our “All Saints Supper and Celebration,” I asked each person to talk about their first Sunday school teacher. Mine was Marylou Crocker. To this day I consider her to be a saint—if not because of the countless ways she faithfully serves the church—because she most definitely deserves that distinction for putting up with my boyhood antics for all those years!

Marylou was the one who taught me about the light of Christ dwelling in me.
Though I doubt she would have put it that way, I now know the importance of the Bible song she taught us as we sat around the little table. It is probably one you recognize. It goes:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, Let it shine,
Let it shine.

In teaching me this timeless folk song, Marylou instilled two truths:

1. I have a light. God breathed life into me, and I am one created in God’s image and likeness. This light is a gift from Christ, who—in his life, from his death, and by his resurrection—dispelled all darkness. The light (albeit a little, flickering one) is a light no darkness can ever overcome.

2. I must let my light shine. By the Holy Spirit, God has gifted me with graces to reflect God’s love with my very life. The light shines when I love my neighbor as I love myself. The light grows brighter when I love my enemies, care for the downtrodden, and break bread with the faithful. This gift of light is to be shared, not hidden. It is by our lights—the very lives we live—that we keep vigil in times of great darkness.

While I do this, maybe my light isn’t such a little, flickering light, after all.

In Luke 11.33 Jesus says, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”

Friend, let your light shine. Let your life speak of the goodness you know to be God’s grace in your life. Embody the light of Christ that has come to dwell as the dawn of your hopes. Welcome the breath of the Spirit that breathes on the embers of your dreams, bringing to life creativity and joy!

Later on in his homily, Pope Francis said, “The saints above all are our brothers and sisters who have welcomed the light of God into their hearts and have passed it on to the world, each one according to their own tone.”
We are like stained glass and the light the shines in us will be different. The saints have taught me that I need not be Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead, I need to be Adam—only Adam—cultivating the flame God has gifted uniquely to me. As those before us lived to let the light of God pass through them to hold off sin and darkness, so may it be the same for us. My light placed next to your light, and then set next to your neighbor’s light… well, those make for a light as bright as the sun.

I wonder what that must look like? Who knew that to be a saint would mean to live like light shining through stained glass...

[Adam Quine, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]


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