September 2016

September 2016

"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit"
Luke 12.35 NRSV

The Good News Bible expresses it a little differently. Be ready for whatever comes, with your clothes fastened tight at the waist and your lamps lit. You may recognise the phrase as linked to the story in Matthew's Gospel of the wise and foolish virgins (bridesmaids), with or without oil in their lamps. But Luke writes about being ready to welcome the master back from a wedding feast, and how happy he would be to find his servants waiting and ready for his return.

Perhaps we might consider that among the first Words we find in the Bible is the Saying Let there be light. And we might take that as an invitation to us to seek light and truth wherever it may be found, not just at the beginning of creation, but as an instruction for the way in which God desires his creation to unfold. So we are expected to be awake and aware and ready to meet God in all things and at all times.

This month's Saying stands in marked contrast, even as a paradox, against last month's Word. This will remind us that the properly balanced religious life needs to include both the contemplative and the active/compassionate elements. The latter generates heat - the warmth of human affection and caring. But heat without light indicates a deficiency. So "be dressed for action and have your lamps lit."

Having the lamp lit requires us to keep the oil topped up - by prayer, contemplative and corporate worship. Then, having fuelled the lamp, it needs to be used to see where we are going, and to help others to see the way. So the light of Christ which has illumined our lives will show us the way to translate the vision into action.

In a hyperactive environment, the word "and" is important . . ."dressed for action, AND . . . lamps lit". The balance is not just in the individual. It also lies in the whole body of believers, with those less capable of physical action supporting the active, and those who are "in harness" relying on the prayer-support given.