Let Your Light Shine Before Others
Fr. Luke A. Veronis
“Let your light shine on others that they may see your good works and give glory to God.”
Jesus Christ said, “I am the Light of the world.” Yet Jesus also told His followers, “YOU are the light of the world.” He challenged His disciples and challenges each one of us to reflect and shine His divine light of love and mercy and grace on others. So how do we do this? How do we share God’s light and shine His Divine Light - as individuals and as a community of faith – in the world!
Today I want to share how our Saints Constantine and Helen Church in Webster has tried to radiate Christ’s Light in Webster, in Central Mass, and throughout the world. Of course every believer is called to go out after every Divine Liturgy and become a shing light in our confused world, but it also means as a Church Family, need to find creative ways to share our blessings in a communal manner with the world around us.
Over the last several years, let me share a number of ways we have tried to shine the light of Christ on the world around us.
This past week, 25 people from our community went to Tijuana Mexico to build a house for a family in need through the wonderful Orthodox organization Project Mexico. We have now build nine homes and taken more than 120 people on these special mission trips, trying to share the love of Christ in concrete ways with others in need.
Last year, our Church paid off $3.5 million in medical debt for 2,200 families in New England. We didn’t know these families. They didn’t know who we were. Yet, we reached out to these families who have been struggling for some years to pay off their medical debt, and in the name of God we wiped out their debt! Their credit scores have probably been ruined. They’ve had the stress of debt collection agencies hounding them for months on end. They probably have been struggling to figure out how to move forward in their lives and then, unexpectedly, they got a letter in the mail that said:
“We want to inform you that you no longer owe the referenced medical debt to the provider listed in this letter because RIP Medical Debt bought and abolished the debt. The funds provided for this act of debt abolishment were generously provided by Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, MA. The forgiveness of this debt is a no-strings-attached gift. You no longer have any obligation to pay this debt to anyone, at any future time.”
Imagine if you were a family that unexpectedly received such a letter. Actually, we just received a response from one of the recipients, who said, "I am so grateful to have RIP medical debt and the Church abolish such a significant amount of debt! As a single mother of two, this has taken a huge weight off my shoulders!! It is so nice to know that there are people out there that are willing to help in such a time of need and care about the struggle that others go through. THANK YOU!!!!!!"
What a beautiful way for our Church to “Let your light shine on others that they may see your good works and give glory to God.”
We live in a post-Christian society where many people are turning away from God and His Church, focusing on certain scandals or on society’s general indifference toward religion. This apathetic spirit has created an indifference to communities of faith. Yet, through trying to “Let your light shine on others that they may see your good works and give glory to God,” we gave 2,200 families a reason to reflect on the blessing of God and His church in their lives.
In similar fashion, two years ago our Church did something else quite different to shine God’s love on others. We gave away $30,000 in our “Good and Faithful Steward Challenge,” asking each one of you, our parishioners, to take a cash gift and use it to bless someone else in need.
I could tell many stories in the ways our parishioners shared God’s blessing with those in need. One parishioner commented, “When my husband offered our gift to someone in need, the man looked at us in disbelief. Many tears flowed from both my husband and this man together in a garage sharing a gift that was so needed for his family. He expressed such gratitude and awe that a Christian church would give this money to the parishioners to make a difference to others in need. The concept of this challenge created a wonderous joy within us.”
Someone else shared, “I gave the money to four people I saw on the street. Giving is contagious and makes us all feel so good! Each time I felt such a joy in giving to others. It made me feel so blessed and I shared that blessing with others!”
These two events of the Medical Debt relief and the Good and Faithful Steward Challenge weren’t gimmicks. They were just creative ways that our community has used to share God’s light to the world. We are all blessed and God expects us to share His blessings with others. Our community of faith is so blessed and as a Church we want to share His love and light with others.
Our Church also offers the Living Bread Luncheon, a monthly meal we offer to the larger Webster community on the first Saturday of every month. We don’t simply offer a delicious meal but we offer an experience of Christ-centered hospitality. We warmly welcome our guest two hours before we serve our meal, talking with them and listening to their stories, treating them with honor and respect as VIP guests. We have created a community with these regular guests who have become our friends. When I see some of them around town at the super market or in a restaurant, they sincerely tell me how much they enjoy the fellowship and how our fellowship and meal is a highlight of the month for them.
“Let your light shine on others that they may see your good works and give glory to God.” Building homes for needy families through Project Mexico. Paying off $3.5 million of medical debt relief for 2,200 families. Offering $30,000 to our community through acts of love. And offering a monthly place for hospitality and friendship through our Living Bread Luncheon.
These are some of the creative ways our Church tries to share the light of Jesus so that more and more people can give glory to God!