“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
So many of our communities and neighborhoods experience a continual battle with darkness. Yet, out of our encounter with the valley of the shadow, a great witness is born. Such a witness has the profound power to expose injustice, pushing into the darkness with the light of Christ. As Dr. King stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
The gospel of Matthew invites us into the light of Christ, the light of the world. As followers of Jesus, we embody the light of Christ, illuminating the darkness and shining light into the shadow of oppression. We declare that this light is the light of personal salvation and the light of good works of the Kingdom of God, together bringing about transformation, justice and an immediate and eternal hope. As vessels of Christ’s light, we expose areas of injustice, calling for a different reality, rooted in the hope of Jesus. When we engage with our neighbors in community transformation, issues of injustice are exposed and brought out of darkness and into the light, furthering the work of transformation.
The prophet Isaiah writes that it is in satisfying the needs of the oppressed, clothing the naked, and sheltering the wanderer that light rises in the darkness, breaking forth like the dawn (Is. 58). Isaiah offers an image of hope in the bleakness of Israel’s exile, yet in their exile, the prophet calls them to embody the light of the God of Israel by illuminating the shadows of the oppressed.
Like the city on a hill referenced in Matthew 5, we are here to be a light, shining with the very generosity of our lives. We are called to embody a spirit of light and to live a life of good works for the Kingdom. As bearers of the light of Christ, living and engaging in our communities, our minds and hearts are illuminated and we, along with our communities, are transformed.
At the 2015 National Conference, we are asking Christ to illuminate our minds and hearts in order to:
- Remember the past and how it shapes us
- Understand our present realities
- Look forward to a future filled with God’s grace and justice
A note from the 2015 National Conference logo artists, Rae Gregory and Rachel Pitcher:
This year’s National Conference logo is inspired by the style and composition of the long-established streets of classic Memphis–the vintage brown paper bag background, the old trolley car overhead wires, the delineation of a typical teal-washed lamppost and timeless red. The main letters of the text are a rendering of the “I AM A MAN” poster of the 1960’s civil rights movement, revealing a sense of injustice and the necessity to shine light on justice, awareness and truth. It is earthy and unrefined. With the combination of all of these elements there is an understanding of hope and possibility amidst a hurting and unjust world.