"You are the light of the world." This metaphor of light points for me today to Virginia Allen. She died on December 5, 2013, on the very day I had mailed her a Christmas card.
Some of you may remember that I mentioned her husband, Wilbur, in a devotion I wrote about a year ago. Wilbur had a mountain spring that produced the best water I had ever tasted. Wilbur died a few years ago.
When Ginny and Wilbur retired they moved out of the small farmhouse at the foot of the mountain to an even smaller dwelling, formerly used for seasonal farm hands. The entrance was a wooden stoop that bridged the rocky soil to a small porch. The inside was warm and hospitable. There were many pictures and books and papers of historical importance. Ginny was on the historical committee for the county. When I visited, we always sat at a small, round, oak table. She never failed to have fresh cookies and hot herbal tea.
I first met Ginny when I was a student at Princeton and an interim pastor in Long Valley, New Jersey. It was a particularly dark time in my life, and Ginny who was struggling with cancer, and living with a minimum of earthly treasures, was the light of the world for me. She was one of my pastors. She had a joyful faith in Jesus, but she didn't wear her faith on her sleeve. She could laugh a quiet but hardy laugh. She followed my life and remembered my children by name for the past twenty years. I am grieving as I write this, but I will always remember, Ginny, "the light of the world." I knew that she was a disciple of Jesus.
I thank you today, Jesus, for Ginny and the many others like her whom you have put on my path as "the light of the world." In your name I pray.
Matthew 5:13-20 (NRSV)
13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14 "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
15 No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.
19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.