Give to Light

CrossOver reflection for Christmas Eve • December 24, 2018
We Make the Road by Walking, Chapter 17a

By Rev. Dr. Lyda Pierce

I knew it must be getting close to time to get up but I was cold, tired and very grouchy.  

It was about 1985, during the counter-revolutionary and Sandinista war in Nicaragua. My husband and I were serving as missionaries with an ecumenical development agency, CEPAD, and one of my roles was to care for groups of church folk from the US coming to see for themselves what was going on. This group’s plan was to experience coffee picking.

We had arrived to this mountain farm the previous evening, just in time to sit with the regular workers and eat dinner together. After dinner, we went with them to get settled for the night. We were taken to a big old wooden barn that had been converted into a bunk house by building giant shelving along both of the long sides of the barn. Each bunk was about 4 feet wide, 4 feet high and 6 feet long. Bunks were stacked four high. There were no beds, just wooden shelves and we had not come well enough prepared. Still, we passed around the blankets and sheets we did have and each sought out a shelf to sleep on.

I ended up with just a sheet, and this mountain area was much colder than the hot sea level city I lived in. All night long,  I tossed and turned, pulled the sheet tighter, then rearranged it over and over, all the while whining to myself about how miserable I felt.

It was still quite dark when I heard a guitar beginning to play quietly, and then a voice began to sing. I peeled open my eyes and saw a small light up at the very top of the barn. One of the Nicaraguans had gone to the top shelf, reached out and hung a hammock from the middle of the roof. From that hammock a lovely voice was calling us into a new day, a day to work together, a day to pick coffee instead of picking up guns.

In another moment lights began to flicker on all around the barn. I could hear people moving around and whispering greetings to one another. In that light the barn changed. It became a home for a people working together. That light led me from feeling sorry for myself, to being part of a community of hope. I was still cold and tired but I could get up and rejoice in a new day. 

In the beginning was the Word
    and the Word was with God
    and the Word was God.
What came into being
     through the Word was life,[a]
      and the life was the light for all people.
 The light shines in the darkness,
      and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. 

John 1:1, 3d-5, The Message

In Spanish, one of the most common ways to say “give birth” is “dar a luz” or give to light. I’m sure that Mary did not sleep much that night as she labored in a barn to give her baby to the light; her baby that would be light for us all, a light that changes everything. Thank you Mary, may we follow in your pathway and give others to the light of your baby.

The Rev. Dr. Lyda Pierce serves as a United Methodist missionary for Hispanic/ Latino Ministry Development in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.

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