One of the things that I love about our Anglican tradition is the Eucharist in reserved sacrament. The clear white light in the vicinity of the tabernacle is a bright indication that the real presence of Jesus, in the form of bread and wine, is kept in safety, in sanctuary; this is so that a priest such as myself, if in need to give communion to someone requesting the blessed sacrament in an emergency, can readily avail.
One evening, driving by my current parish church, the light from the presence lamp was brightly shining as I passed by. What a feeling of calm and a feeling of companionship I felt as I saw the light. There are some evenings now, as I am driving home, that I will make a detour to go past the church just so that I can see the presence lamp shining in the darkness. It gives to me a feeling of comfort, a feeling of assurance, and a feeling of peace. I know that within the darkness there is a presence.
Other times, especially after an evening of teaching confirmation class or after having a vestry meeting, I enter into the worship space and I sit in a pew and take the time to think and reflect in silence, and also in the presence of the tabernacle light. I take the words which were preached at my ordination to the diaconate to heart as I examine the things I have done in the day and wonder, if I had to do it all over again, what would I do the same, and what would I do differently. Romans 13:12 says: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” The tabernacle light is such: the armour of light needed in our world.
Whether it be our feelings because of the pandemic or because of the sadness we see on the nightly newscast, we feel there are times we live in darkness, yet the light of Christ shines. The light of Christ shines and pierces the darkness giving a sense of hope—hope to a world so desperately in need of something better.
So the next time you are driving by your parish church, look in if you can, and see if you can see the tabernacle light shining in the darkness. Know that because such a light is shining, you are not alone. Take to heart the words of St. Matthew’s Gospel, echoed in the liturgy of Holy Baptism in the Giving of the Light: “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify you Father in Heaven.”