Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Light

© 2018 Christy K Robinson

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Early Quakers like Mary Barrett Dyer, John Copeland, Christopher Holder, Humphrey Norton, William Robinson and Marmaduke Stevenson referred to their religious experience of Christ in their hearts as The Light.

They understood the words of Jesus, that while he was in the world, he was “the Light of the world.” (John 9:5)

But Jesus also said, "You are the light of the world. A city 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, wrote from prison on 13 August 1656 (while Mary Dyer was still in England), “Now our Friends being come to this light which comes from Christ, and having received power from him by whom all things were created, to whom all power in heaven and earth is given, who is the wisdom of God; we have received wisdom and power from him, by which the Lord does give us to know how to use and order the creatures to the glory of him, the creator of all things.”

Back in America from spring 1657, Mary Dyer wrote to the General Court at Boston in 1659: “Search with the light of Christ in you and it will show you … as it hath done me and many more.”

Fragment from Mary Dyer's letter to the General Court in 1659.

“Turn inward to Christ the light, which shows you the secrets of your hearts, and the deeds that are not good. Therefore, while you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of the light. ” wrote Copeland, Holder, and Doudney from the Boston prison in 1657.  

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it... The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.” (John 1:4, 5, 9 NIV)

Because Mary Dyer and others lived in such dark times of religious persecution even unto death, the Light that was real and tangible to themwas life itself. It was light in their mortal lives, even in prison suffering from whippings and unheated, unlit winter. And it was a light shining from the eternal life that has been promised to the children of God.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants— all their whips and cudgels and curses— Is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood, Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!  (Isaiah 9:6 The Message paraphrase) 

Though Quakers, Puritans, Baptists, and other religious groups of the time did not celebrate winter solstice or Christmas, they did treasure the Light in their lives and desired above all things to share that Light.

I hope that you will store these things in your heart, as Mary Dyer and her Friends did, and let God, Yahweh, Jesus, the Universe, or Higher Power—whatever you choose to label it—have a chance with you. Don’t remain in darkness or deep shadows: step out into Light.

May the Light burst forth in your life and bring you peace, kindness, mercy, grace, and compassion.

Happy holy-days!


Christy K Robinson is author of these books:

We Shall Be Changed (2010) 

Mary Dyer Illuminated Vol. 1 (2013)   

Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This Vol. 2 (2014) 

The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport Vol. 3 (2014)  

Effigy Hunter (2015)   

Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother (2018)


And of these sites:  

Discovering Love  (inspiration and service)

Rooting for Ancestors  (history and genealogy)

William and Mary Barrett Dyer (17th century culture and history of England and New England)