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Piel: Who or what do you reflect in your life? We must all share the light | RELIGION COMMENTARY

Our neighbor George said he was in elementary school when he made a major scientific discovery. He found out, much to his surprise, that his (our) moon did not have its own light source. The moon’s light was simply a reflection of our sun.

Later in life he made his reflection-discovery personal. He raised the question (which we are raising with you), who or what do I reflect?


The question is, am I a child of darkness or a child of light, meaning, do I reflect negative or hurtful things or do I reflect good or positive things? Everyone reflects something! What do I reflect? Am I building up or am I tearing down?

This in turn led George to believe that a key way to understand life was to deal with the eternal tension between light and darkness. What happens when we reflect “light” into our daily life? What happens when we reflect “darkness” into that same life? What effect does it have on those around us?


The source of light or darkness often depends on who or what we follow. There are those who make a living preaching darkness, division, separation, confusion, even hate. On the other-hand there are those who invite us to follow into the light-into healing, health, reconciliation, love and peace.

A friend of ours had an interesting question about light and darkness. How do you know if you are reflecting light or darkness? How do you know if you are a child of the light or a child of the darkness?

If you choose to surround yourself with people who are just like you, believe like you, talk like you, act like you, reject those who are not like you, then probably you will never know. If you only read one newspaper which affirms your belief system or watch one television news program or listen to only one radio commentator, or read only certain Facebook messages then you probably will believe that you are in the right and everybody else is wrong.

You might even go further (which is happening today) and call those you disagree with your “enemy.” You are told again and again until you believe it that the enemy is out to destroy your way of life, your faith, your country even your children. Thus you close your mind to anything that you disagree with. When that happens truth begins to die.

Maybe even more important, do I seek for the truth even when it is inconvenient or do I find a truth that is convenient for me that reflects my own attitudes or prejudices? Do I like to have my views or beliefs challenged so I can grow or do I get in a defensive position the moment I hear something that I disagree with? Are the sins of my father and mother passed on to me so I can continue with them or do I value those I love even when I disagree with them?

Turning to holy scripture the prophet Isaiah writes: “arise, shine, for you light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (60.1). It is interesting how the passage continues: “for darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness the peoples, but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will come to your light.”

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The prophet Isaiah challenges us to “arise and shine.” Not only to “shine” in how we live our lives but even more important how we are called (maybe even commanded) to live in goodness, peace and solidarity with others.

Isaiah reminded us of verses found in the gospel according John: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (1.5) and “again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8.12).


Couple this with another statement from Jesus directed at me and you — “you are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5.14) The passage goes on to remind us not to hide our light but let it shine! We understand this to mean that although we are not the light source — we are called to reflect the life and teachings of Jesus. Reflecting the light that will shine and pierce the darkness will change our life for good but also will impact the world around us. Maybe it is too much to hope for in the culture of today, but if each one of us would let the good light shine it would make a difference — one person at a time! Our Dad used to say “leave the world a little better than you found it!” It’s still good advice for today!

In closing, there is a passage in the Gospel according to Matthew (5.16) that goes “let your light shine so that others may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

This is an interesting verse. “It’s not “all about me!” When we reflect the light of the Creator and the light of the teachings of Jesus, people may point to us and compliment us not only how we are living our lives but the positive effect it has on others. It’s nice to get a compliment but for those who “walk in the dust of our rabbi” the credit goes beyond us. The passage goes on to say when we are complimented about our light, the “glory” does not go to us but to God (“our Father in heaven”). We shouldn’t need be complimented on “sharing the light.” Rather, this is the responsibility of those who have accepted the invitation to “come and follow me!”

Let the dialogue continue. We only ask that you think on these things.

The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis “Lou” Piel is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg and can be reached at