A north wind brought a teeth chattering temperature to East Colfax as a group assembled for a memorial service. We huddled together in the parking lot of the Carriage Motel trying to light candles in the brisk wind. We were gathered to remember Linda* who unexpectedly passed away from a brain tumor a week ago.
Patty and I first met Linda and her husband Lyle* several weeks earlier as we knocked on their hotel door to offer some food, they immediately invited us into their hotel room and we heard their story. Linda had a deep New Jersey accent and loved to laugh and Lyle couldn’t brag enough about his wife of two years and the joy she brought him. Linda fondly joked, “that she had to come west to find her native.”
Over the course of the next several Tuesdays we spent time in their room talking about life and asking if there was anything we could specifically prayer for. I clearly remember one night right before one of those prayer times Linda declared, “I know Jesus!” and Lyle with a bright grin added, “me too!” Little did we know that would be the last time we would see them together.
As we patiently tried to get the candles lit Lyle shared some thoughts about Linda and read a poem one of the ladies from the motel had written. Next scripture verses were read and a few of us shared memories about Linda. The service concluded with all of us singing “Amazing Grace.” It was one of those surreal moments; I looked around at the group huddled together, residents of the motel, volunteers, and Lyle wiping away a few tears. We all held candles that shone brightly. We all sang about the amazing gift of grace given to sinners. This gift presented to us by a loving Father God and I thought to myself, “Thank you Jesus.”
Here we were in one of the roughest parts of the city with people wandering by, police sirens screaming in the background and yet the light of Jesus broke forth on a cold dark night. I believe such a night was what Isaiah’s prophecy meant:
Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:1-3
There at the Carriage Motel in the midst of sadness and sorrow the light of Christ broke through the darkness declaring His Kingdom reign and rule. Not even the shadow of death can separate us from the love of God the Father in Christ Jesus. This area often described as having a dark, demonic stronghold had the glorious light of the Father’s Kingdom break forth as praises and prayers were lifted up in His name.
In Hebrew the words “Arise” and “Shine” are in the imperative tense, meaning we are commanded to get up and share the message of the glorious light of Christ. This Christmas season I challenge you to let the light of Christ shine through you as you go about your daily life. As you shop, sip a latte at Starbucks, serve someone in need, shovel your neighbor’s snowy walk, or sing Christmas songs of praise may you share the Light, the Light that shines gloriously over the darkness!
*Names changed to protect identity of residents.