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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5
by Beth Carroll
We knit ourselves tightly together on that rainy, breezy night. Our backs strategically positioned to shield the wind, defiantly keeping our candles lit for the vigil. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all gathered in the parking lot of the downtown United Methodist Church. Smiling, singing, and praying our protest of the candidate who was just two miles away from us that night. That candidate who, a few weeks before, smugly suggested Muslims in our country be required to carry ID cards; the same candidate who at that moment was standing in a packed arena, sweating under hot camera lights, frenetically yelling his plan to make America great again.
Another candle defying another rainy night. “It is just a matter of time before all Muslims align themselves with ISIS. What Christian justification do you have for supporting them?” My words positioned to shield the hurtful ignorance away from my flame. “The core of our call is to love our neighbors. I support Muslims not despite my faith, but because of it. This is what it means to be Christian.”
The beauty of candles is that they illumine more than they burn. Their light is inviting and nurturing, not flooding and blinding. So often I want to be the latter. I want to be a camera light. I want to be a torch. I want to be a flat fluorescent that reveals every flaw and ounce of ugliness in a room. I want to sear. I want to win over. I want to overwhelm. I want to burn it all down with a lighter and a gallon of accelerant. I want to rage. But that flame is not Christ, that flame is me.
Candles seem vulnerable when you take them outside. A David bearing its vulnerability against a stormy Goliath. But if many backs come together to shield this light against the wind and rain, they shine their invitation to the world. Perhaps this world needs fewer camera lights and more people willing their candles against the rain.
Beth Carroll is a student at Western Theological Seminary, while also working as Director of Youth Ministry at Hope Church in Holland, Michigan.