Monday, October 29, 2012
Using the Red Light
What’s that red light for? You know, the one hanging at the front of the church? This is a question I field sometimes as a pastor. It’s a question that gives us opportunity to talk about Jesus at work in this world. Usually in our culture a red light is a symbol for stopping. But if you step into the nave of a Lutheran church and look into the sanctuary, the place behind the altar rail, behind the pulpit or lectern, you’ll almost always find a red light. This red light doesn’t tell us to stop, or does it? It’s a light which is kept on in the church building all the time, symbolic of the presence of Jesus’ blood, shed for all who believe, always available to us for forgiveness. In our church the light is produced by a long-burning candle which is inside a red glass cylinder. Every week the candle is replaced. Every week the flame starts at the top and moves down toward the bottom. When I step into the nave the level of the flame reminds me to pause, to reflect on the fact that Jesus has given himself for me once for all time, but that time continues to pass. The flame is lower today than it was yesterday. Many events have happened, events that I need to pray about, circumstances I have reacted to, often badly, situations for which I need to repent and receive God’s forgiveness. It’s always there. The time flies by. I come and go. Jesus is always there. What happens when we stop and observe the red light? We stop and observe Jesus who gave himself for us.