This lamp sitting on the podium today has a special connection with Chautauqua,” said the Rev. Zina Jacque at the 9:15 a.m. Thursday Ecumenical Service in the Amphitheater.
Chautauqua founder Lewis Miller’s daughter Mina brought her fiancé to Chautauqua — Thomas Edison.
“The capacity to bring light into people’s lives is closely tied with Chautauqua,” Jacque said.
Her sermon title was “Holy Objects — A Lamp,” and the Scripture text was Acts 1:8.
The electric light brought several changes to people’s lives, she said. Electric light allowed people to work after sundown, to work on their dreams and create new things into the night.
Electricity changed work in the home and provided more leisure time.
“Electric lights led to other inventions like the radio and refrigerator,” Jacque said.
Electricity also provided greater safety. Homes and businesses were previously lit with kerosene or candles; electricity brought a reduction of fires.
“We have to honor what this small but mighty lamp has done,” Jacque said.
The lamp is not a single unit.
“If the bulb is separated from the socket, it can do no good thing,” she said. “The parts need each other. The socket and the bulb are no good if they are not on the body. The socket, the bulb and the body are no good without the cord.”
It is the same with you, Jacque told the congregation.
“You shine bright when you are connected to the right source,” she said.
Some people are light bulbs, she said, who are engaged in the world to make possible what had not been possible before. Other people are the socket.
“We don’t pay attention to the socket until it does not work,” she said. “There are people who work behind the scenes, quietly, and their gifts bestow life.”
The body is the pretty part of the lamp, and there are people who are the pretty part.
“They are the part that stabilizes the whole,” Jacque said, “and they are attractive and just because of who they are, they bring people to the community and hold the community together.”
Then there are those who are the cord, the conduit for the electric power.
“This is the part that people trip over, but it is as necessary as the other parts,” she said.
Jacque said that it was no mistake that Paul, writing in I Corinthians, used the human body as a metaphor for the spiritual community.
“No matter what role you play, you are vital, necessary and important,” she said. “Each of us has a place; a role to play and if we refuse, the lamp won’t work.”
She said that in Barrington, Illinois, a town of 50,000 people, there are 16 churches ranging from the Willow Creek megachurch, to smaller ones like the Episcopal and United Church of Christ churches.
These churches were not functioning well together and two pastors brought the whole group of pastors together for a retreat. They came out with an agreement that has kept them together for eight years.
The innermost circle of the agreement is the statement “Jesus is Lord.” The second wider circle is “Jesus died and is coming back.” The third and outermost circle is “love is the primary ethic.”
“When we have theological disagreements, we say ‘olly olly oxen free’ like in hide and seek,” Jacque said. “Everyone is free to come back to the center circle where we all agree that Jesus is Lord.”
Disciples are called to shed light, to give hope and promise to the future, she said.
“We all have an important part to play, whether bulb, socket, body or cord, but we can’t illuminate the world until we are plugged into the right source.”
Your power, your pedigree, your people or your promises are not the right sources because they will fail you.
“The only power is the power of the Holy Ghost,” Jacque said. “There has been only one power since God spoke and the world came into being.”
That power resides in you, she told the congregation, because you are a temple of the Holy Spirit.
“When you go home from here, you will need that power,” she said.
The world in Edison’s time needed light because the darkness controlled too much.
“Our nation needs light, because the darkness controls too much,” Jacque said. “Plug into that power and let your light shine. Illumine the places where darkness thinks it has won. That is where love must be. Will you?”
The Rev. Carmen Perry presided. Katie Vickers, a scholarship student with the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons, from Bellevue, Kentucky, read the Scripture. She attends Mount St. Joseph University, majoring in social work with a minor in psychology. The Motet Choir sang “America the Beautiful,” arranged by Mark Hayes. J. Paul Burkhart served as narrator. Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, directed the choir. The Randell-Hall Memorial Chaplaincy and the Geraldine M. and Frank E. McElree Jr. Chaplaincy Fund provide support for this week’s services.