Lighthouse Homes

Lighthouse Homes

 

“On my way over here, I happened to read the following: ‘A true home should be a lighthouse, shedding its quiet beams far and wide.’ That is my dream – that our homes and the homes of this nation would be lighthouses; that every home would be filled with the light and love of Jesus. I am so proud of you all. What with the Mothers’ Union Journal, the meetings and the correspondence, it’s a wonder you have time for anything else! And in all of this, I beg one thing: Let us never forget our children, the little ones to whom we are called. As Christ himself said: ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’”

‘Chosen: The Story of the Mother’s Union’ Scene 8, Mary Sumner, Saltmine Theatre Company

 

I recently had the privilege of portraying Mary Sumner in Saltmine Trust’s production of ‘Chosen: The Story of the Mothers’ Union’. I cannot say I knew the story of Mary Sumner, and not a great deal about the Mothers’ Union, before starting work on Saltmine’s production, and it was a joy to discover the phenomenal woman that was Mary Sumner.  As I spent time reading up on her in preparation for the role, and throughout the process of becoming the character, I was both inspired and challenged by her simple obedience. In the speech I opened with, Mary talks about her desire to see homes become lighthouses. A lighthouse cannot help but give out light, it’s all that it can do, and yet that simple act changes everything around it.

And here was a woman who was simply willing to be light. She didn’t set out intending to create a network of millions spanning continents. She simply wanted to support mothers in her village. Mary was a light in the area in which she had been placed by God. And then her area of influence grew and she was a light there. And she quietly shed her beams further and further, and allowed other women, and men, to recognise their own ability to be light. We are blessed to know the light and love of Jesus. And from Mary’s life we can see that all we need to do is quietly and confidently shed that light.  And Mary’s confidence definitely didn’t come from herself, but her confidence in the Lord. I think that’s a wonderful thing to discover, and something that really encourages me. Throughout her life, we see that when the Mothers’ Union took big steps forward, Mary didn’t feel like she was capable, or ready, but God gave her the strength to overcome her own insecurities.

If we have faith in the Lord, if we quietly and confidently shed light then we can achieve things beyond our own imaginings. Within some narration at the end of the play, Mary says ‘The door of our home was always open’. That one line had a real impact on me. As Christians we often we talk about hospitality and having an ‘open door’, but I know for myself that often has conditions attached: ‘open door’ when convenient for me, hospitable to the people I love. Quite recently there was an incident late one evening on my road. It was unclear what had happened, but a group of people were stood outside a house and they were clearly very distressed. After noticing something was going on, I went about my evening but later realised they were still stood outside. I didn’t know any of them, nor did I know the situation that was happening, but I found myself wondering if there was anything I could do to help. Immediately Mary’s words popped into my head, ‘The door of our home was always open’. I wasn’t particularly comfortable going out into the street but there was clearly no hostility, and there was also a reason, unknown to me, for them not being able to go into their home.  I thought if they couldn’t go into their house, they might be grateful for being in someone else’s home. At the very least I could offer a tea, a chance to sit down, the use of our bathroom.

I ventured over to offer use of our house and I was met by extremely grateful neighbours. It turned out that they had been burgled that evening, causing the distress, and meaning they weren’t able to disrupt anything in the house whilst police were looking at it. They didn’t take up the offer that evening, but my housemates and I checked in on them the next day. The young couple were extremely thankful that we had reached out to them. The burglary had come at a bad time, one of them had just started evening classes and his partner was now scared of being in the house on her own, but worried of leaving altogether to spend evenings with family elsewhere. We were able to welcome her into our home, giving her company and not being too far for her to worry about her own home.  We later received a thank you card telling us that after the burglary they had wanted to move away, but the support they had received from their neighbours meant they would be staying.

Sometimes you are lucky enough to see the direct consequence of God’s prompting. The wonderful thing is that God wants to partner with us in his work. This awesomely powerful God wants to use us, wants us to be part of the story he is working on. And we can be used by simply being light, wherever the Lord has placed us.

 

Katie Coen, Actor, Saltmine Theatre Company