6 November 2023

Get ready to shine your light in your community

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

A graphic shows the Shine Your Light logo.

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts introduces a national ecumenical initiative.

Here's a pop trivia question. Who was the last UK winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and what was their song? 

Sam Ryder almost won in 2022 with ‘Space Man’. He topped the jury vote only to be overtaken by Ukraine’s entry in the public vote. You have to go back to 1997 for the last UK winner – Katrina and the Waves with ‘Love Shine a Light’. I used the song title as the theme for our corps carol service that year because it resonated so well with the Christmas message.

It could also be – but isn’t – the theme song for a national ecumenical initiative this December. Shine Your Light invites churches to take the Christmas message to the streets on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 December, with an emphasis on community events and activities on the Saturday. Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill has endorsed the Army’s involvement, saying: ‘Carols, community and Christmas: three words that go together. I was excited to hear of plans to see these unite as churches across the Isles take the message of “God with us” onto the streets. I’m in!’ 

Light is an evocative symbol. John’s Gospel uses it to describe the Incarnation: ‘The true Light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world’ (John 1:9). Jesus described himself in the same way: ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12). So, ‘shine your light’ could be a prayer that Jesus would shine his light into the hearts of men and women this Christmas.

Jesus also used the symbol of light to describe the witness of his followers: ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house’ (Matthew 5:14 and 15). So, ‘shine your light’ could also be a call to the Church to go out into the world and give light to everyone. 

That’s the thought behind Shine Your Light. One of the organisers, Dr Jonathan Oloyede from the National Day of Prayer and Worship, says: ‘The vision for Shine Your Light is that the whole Church across England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic stands united to share the gospel to the whole of society this Christmas. Every local church and believer are being encouraged to be a light to shine to brighten up the whole country like a Christmas tree.’

Salvation Army corps shouldn’t need any encouragement to spread the Christmas message that weekend, as many will already have their carolling planned. But how about making it an ecumenical effort? Members of local churches could be invited to join in with carol singing and outreach. Or, if other churches are planning events, corps members could join them. 

This December, let’s pray ‘shine your light’ and respond to the invitation to do so ourselves.

5 ways to shine your light

  1. Take the Christmas message outside your hall.
  2. Pray for and bless your community. 
  3. Share a testimony, story or gospel presentation. 
  4. Update your salvationarmy.org.uk webpage to promote your local activities.
  5. Register on shineyourlight.org.uk and share your plans there too!

Written by

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Territorial Ecumenical Officer, THQ

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