I have been watching the Fall colors burst out in all their glory this year. The Maple tree on the south side of the parsonage was extremely beautiful this year, I have truly enjoyed gazing at its beauty both with the sun shining on it and on the cloudy days, the red leaves were brilliant  throughout the season! Now November is upon us and the cloudy days will likely increase and the rain will fall and the temperatures will cool and scent of pumpkin spice is filling many homes.

 There are special days all through November, Veteran’s Day and opportunity to thank those who have served this country proudly. Thanksgiving, a day when family and friends gather together and give thanks for a bountiful harvest. In my family, Thanksgiving weekend has become our traditional “cookie day”. When my nieces and nephews were little, they would come and we would bake Christmas cut-out sugar and Gingerbread family cookies and then decorate them all. Now that they have all gotten older, our cookie day is mostly decorating the cookies that I have baked.  Regardless of whether we bake and decorate or just decorate, it is one of my favorite days of the year! We spend our time remembering cookie days past and we  share stories of the family members who had left this world and are now part of the “Great Cloud of Witnesses.”

 All Saints Day is a special day for me. I know for people who are mourning friends and loved ones who have joined that heavenly throng, it can be a difficult service, I appreciate the opportunity to gaze on each candle light and give thanks for the life that it represents and the light that shined from them as they offered Christ to the world, and how they affected the life of those who remember them. It also affords me moments to remember and give thanks for those in my life who have formed me into the person I have become. These saints of light let their lights shine into the lives of others and igniting lights in so many other people.

 I have to say that I didn’t really think about the flickering of the candle flames much, until after walking through the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. It is a short walk through the memorial, yet it can take a long time to get from the entrance to the exit. The memorial is hollowed out from an underground cavern, it is a dark and somber space. There are panels of mirrors that hang from the ceiling to reflect the light of five candles. The flame from the candle light looks like millions of stars flickering in the dark sky, honoring the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust. As you walk through the names of each child are spoken and you gaze at the “star lights, and if you look, you can see yourself in the mirrors among the lights. Seeing myself in the midst of those lights caused me to think of a lot of things, I am a child of Abraham, and I have had the opportunity by the grace of God to live a longer life than these children whose names were being read. I am called to be a light to the world. Being in the midst of the memorial of This “Great Cloud of Witnesses”, I realized that I am part of a world that needs more light.

Hebrews tells us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus as the pioneer and perfecto of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). That Great Cloud of Witnesses surrounds us as we walk our faith journey each and every day. And because we have that gift, we should light our wicks and let our lights shine!

 In a world that is filled with darkness, the light of God still shines! It shines in you and in me and as we follow Jesus, we will carry the light of God into a world that will be lit up by the love of Jesus that we share with others. So let your lights shine, the darkness cannot and will not overcome it!


Pastor Mona