#SensingSpirituality Thought of the Day Youth


“Light” is used frequently in the Gospels, especially in the good news as told by John.

I chose this theme for my final assembly with the Dumfries High School year group I have been chaplain to since they started secondary school during lockdown.

As they gather I usually run a video which introduces the theme and provides something for them to think about.

Be the light

I then have time to help them reflect on the theme.

The approach I have taken over the years is to provide something for them to think about that will be of value whatever faith, or none, they have. I accompany this by sharing my beliefs, but in a way that respects the awareness of multicultural diversity that forms the Scotland we live in.

This approach bears fruit and I sometimes have the privilege to see in comments made before and after assemblies Sometimes it is years later in a pub when I meet a former pupil who is now an adult!

What follows is not the reflection I spoke at the assembly, that was then, and this is a written in a different format and for a different audience.

I started by encouraging them to think about how some political leaders will set themselves up as “Lights” they will reduce complex issues to simple solutions and then try to attract followers. They will present their path as the best one out of the darkness.

Religion is also often presented in this way. As a strong beacon, a guiding light to be followed, a blueprint for the good life. There is another way to think about light however. When you are in the presence of light, you can see. Even if you only have the faint glow from your phone screen, it will help to recognise things and find your way. The purpose of light is often not to be looked at and followed, but to help people see and find their path.

Every time Jesus was raised up and offered political power he refused it. He walked, talked, celebrated, and cried with people in a very hands on way. However, after passing through death he then ascended to heaven, leaving no physical body to provide that sort of focus.

I am struck by the way in which Jesus responds to the people he encounters by reminding them that they know what is right and wrong, or if the issue is complicated at least what is best to do.

John describes Jesus as talking of his followers as friends. Having touched the light, they became lights. As they scattered through the empire they carried the light with them. There was no path laid down for them to follow, but there was a Way they had learned to walk with Jesus. When he ascended to heaven, the comforter came. The Holy spirit is with us always.

So what does this mean in practice?

“Seek and you will find”, “Knock, and doors will open” We should hold ourselves accountable, but also question that which is assumed to be normal. Jesus did not encourage his followers to build a temple to be his house, instead he sent his friends off to visit people in their houses and be an influence in the way that salt invisibly makes food taste better, and yeast makes bread easier to eat.

The treasure we have inherited is not like gold, silver, buildings or worldly power – which draw attention and followers, but will all pass away. Even when the traditions and languages we speak now become as difficult to recognise as the Latinus and Kirkmadrine stones, our treasure will glimmer in the dark.

There will be light. God is with us

One day we will enter into our full heritage … how close are you?

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