Each Saturday evening during Great Vespers, Orthodox chant the following beautiful hymn, one of the most ancient of our faith:
Gladsome light of holy glory of the holy, blessed, heavenly, immortal Father, O Jesus Christ: arriving at the hour of sunset and having seen the evening light, we praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God. It is worthy for You to be praised at all times with happy voices, O Son of God and Giver of life; and therefore the world glorifies You.
This Sunday marks two weeks since the Blessed Resurrection of our Lord. As we continue to celebrate the paschal joy of our Risen Lord, I offer a potential topic for your family discussion during Sunday Lunch.
My brothers and sisters, God’s “gladsome light” that is referenced in the above hymn can change our lives; not only at Pascha, but it can transform us each day if we submit to God’s will. Recall that the hymn traditionally is sung as the oil lamps in church are lit to coincide with the setting of the sun. The word gladsome means to be filled with, marked by, or causing pleasure. Simply put, in response to our accepting God’s glorious light, our nature is transformed into a cheerful disposition. To illustrate, consider reading the following parable to your family.
Three children carried their candles home from church. Each of the youth thought of their candle as an image of the Resurrected Light of our Risen Lord.
One had not even lit his candle in order to keep it good as new. The other had let her candle burn during the service; she carried it forth still lit from the church, but it blew out at the doorway of her home. The third child blew out her candle and took it home and lit it a number of times during the year until it was burned down into the dish.
“Look,” said Evdokimos, “after ten months have passed, I still have my candle as good as new. I was smarter than the others. Eutychia’s candle is all burned up and Eurydice’s candle just lays in the drawer half used up. Who’s the smartest, mother?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “Candles are made to be used. They give forth their light for whatever the user decides. Who can say what Eutychia was thinking, as she did her work with the lighted candle, and who knows how Eurydice feels, when she opens her drawer and sees the candle half-way used up.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are meant to use our lives being helpful to others; whether you light a candle or don’t use candles, there is a spiritual light that is in you… one that can shine out to make others happy. It is not how big your candle is, but how you use the light that it gives.
Our Lord said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” What if our family members were encouraged to do more to build up God’s flock at our respective parishes? During lunch, we could ask our elders to share their experiences with us. Using their wisdom, we could teach our youth how to reach out to those who feel left behind or unsupported.
Many of our families and friends are yearning for someone… yes, for us… to help them rekindle an active life within our Lord’s Holy Body. In so doing, we come to realize what our Lord meant when He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
At this Sunday’s lunch, let us reinforce that each of us is a “laborer”. God is calling His children to bring others into His harvest. We may not realize it, but each of us is an integral part of building up and maintaining God’s Holy Church for His glory. In so doing, we honor His Name. Our clergy, our Parish Councils, our ministry leaders… none of us can do it alone. We can and must reach out of our “comfort zone” whereby the norm is often 20 percent of our faithful producing 80 percent of our results. If we are to break out of our “comfort zone”, let us begin by challenging our own family to step forward and harvest God’s fruits.
We all are needed to respond to our Lord’s challenge in Isaiah 6:8: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Let us join together in answering like the Prophet Isaiah…“Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
And 2,700 years after the Prophet’s words were written, we can delight in witnessing the joy of our Risen Lord… the “gladsome light of holy glory of the holy, blessed, heavenly, immortal Father, O Jesus Christ… It is worthy for You to be praised at all times with happy voices, O Son of God and Giver of life; and therefore the world glorifies You.” Lord, help us work with You and one another to seek Your will and fulfil Your mission of salvation for all. Amen.