Thought for the Week: Let our light shine

Judy Turner-Crawson reflects on letting our lights shine, as individuals and a community

Like millions who watched the royal wedding earlier this year, I found it exquisitely beautiful and inspiring. Yes, I was even misty-eyed – as the event came two days before the thirty-seventh anniversary of my wedding to my late husband Richard.

Being both a Quaker and an Anglican, I sometimes refer to myself as a ‘Quanglican’ (like Terry Waite) and, with dual American and British nationality, I was transported by the words, music and symbolism. They brought together a handsome hereditary British prince and a beautiful dual heritage American woman – a divorced actor, no less – who shares her ‘prince charming’s’ passion to use celebrity status where possible to help make the world a better place. Like my late husband Richard and me, the couple is giving new meaning to the much-vaunted ‘Special Relationship’ between Britain and the USA.

For me, the highlight of the service was the sermon by Michael Bruce Curry, the twenty-seventh presiding bishop and primate of the US Episcopal Church. Sadly, America’s Episcopal Church has been badly damaged over various deeply contentious issues; but Michael Bruce Curry has remained enthusiastic. He preached in the vociferously emotional style of Martin Luther King and other inspiring black leaders. His focus was on the power of love.

At the end, he cited a French scientist, theologian and mystic – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin – whose thinking I find profound. The words were: ‘Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love… and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.’

Last Sunday, as our Meeting for Worship ended, a beautiful older woman visiting from Australia with her second husband observed that: ‘Love is truly unlimited’. I had never thought of it like that, but it seems to me that she is right. Her husband cited Michael Bruce Curry’s comment that: ‘Two young people fell in love and all of us showed up!’ As did massive television audiences all over the world!

Many Quakers find the institution of royalty and the huge gap between the wealth of royals and ordinary people offensive. For me, there are other dimensions worth considering. Clearly, this particular event gave us something fresh and delightful to think and talk about. Indeed, perhaps in the context of this wedding, our royal family, young and old, is likely to have a growing impact on the wider world, encouraging millions of people to do their best to make our world – God’s world – a better place.

We Quakers have long undertaken vital voluntary work and challenging campaigns; even in the face of major risks and sometimes punishments. Westminster Meeting is in the early stages of organising to help a refugee family resettle. We have a project to support funerals for those whose loved ones can’t afford one. We are building up a Children’s Meeting, which we hope can keep our movement thriving as many of us oldies depart from this world. There is so much to be done.

So, let’s continue as individuals and a community to let our lights shine. Let’s be thankful for those in leadership roles who fan the flames of passionate engagement with the world and, like George Fox, despite the turbulent times in which we live, let’s continue to ‘walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone’.

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