Light over darkness

This week is Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve. All Hallows Day (or All Saints Day) has been celebrated on November 1 since around 998 AD and celebrates the belief that those who die with genuine Christian faith have nothing to fear from death as they continue their relationship with God beyond the grave. Over the years the festivities evolved such that on the night before All Saints Day children began dressing up in spooky costumes. However, the commercialisation of Halloween means the message today as got lost because it’s all about scaring people.

Mine & Helen’s pumpkin

I think we are currently living in a dark place and scary place, so the last thing we want is scaring people. I see darkness when people are living in austerity, knife crime rising and not forgetting the unknown outcome of Brexit. The world is in a dark place needing love, hope, and light.

The recent atrocity carried out at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh not forgetting the helicopter crash at Leicester City FC can put love into question. However, Fred Rodgers famous quote can encourage us to see love in the darkest times:
‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, the following quote from ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.

In the words of Jo Cox: ‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that which divides us.’ What happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue is awful and we can continue to pray for those families affected, but we must remember we are surrounded by real love. This week I have completed a two day Citizens UK training. Citizens UK organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. I found it a joy to share with other religions and traditions. Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues opening their doors to the community for Inter-faith week (11-18th Nov) and Citizens UK bringing people together reminds us that we are far more united.

At the North London Citizens AGM we remembered our Jewish friends in Pittsburgh, local council agreeing to have all the new flats in Tottenham that’s affordable (thanks to Citizens UK), and a mum sharing her story about her son killed in knife crime. These are normal people sharing their stories and challenging the state!

Walter Brueggemann is an American Protestant Old Testament scholar and theologian. He wrote a book called The Prophetic Imagination. Bruggemann explains Moses’ role was to make a new human beginning with the religion of God’s freedom from politics and the justice and compassion. Moses breaks away from religion and politics, which results to the breaking away from Pharaoh (Royal Consciousness). This demonstrates the church can use Moses’ model by showing justice and compassion to people struggling by challenging the politics that causes hardships. Citizens UK demonstrate what Brueggemann is saying.

Martin Luther King Jr said ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’. Real love drives out darkness because our love is Jesus.
Real love is full of action and speaking out like:
– Martin Luther King (seeing the possibility of an America where black and white citizens were truly equal)
– Wilberforce (wanting the slave trade to be abolished)
– Bonhoeffer (standing up for Jewish people during WW2)
– Mother Teresa (welcoming people off the streets in India)
The above people demonstrate biblical actions. Real love is shining a light into the dark places.
Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Our actions are based on Jesus of kindness and compassion (agape) and we want to bring hope to a dark place.
Our love is the Gospel. Our love is Jesus! Real love opens doors and builds bridges.

May you shine your light into the community.