During the early 40's my grandparents moved to Newport News, Virginia. Like many people from rural North Carolina my grandfather took a job at the Newport News Shipyard where he studied in the Shipyard apprentice school and learned the trade of welding. Having lived in Newport News for over a decade, I love to hear how different things were a half-century ago here on the Virginia Peninsula. My grandparents tell how they rented a room from a nice couple down on Huntington Avenue near the Shipyard and it was during this time that my grandmother became pregnant with her first child, my mother. My grandmother tells how she would spend her day at home keeping house while my grandfather went to work. But on December 7, 1941 everything changed. That Sunday morning Japanese war planes attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor.
All of a sudden the world changed for all Americans. This one act by the Japanese pulled 'the sleeping giant' into WWII. Very soon after that my grandparents went back home to Pike Road, NC. In Newport News the city prepared for war. There were practice air raid drills and blackouts. Europe was used to the drills, but this was new for the U.S.
In Britain for example, the British government imposed a total blackout during the war. Every person had to make sure they did not provide any lights that would give any clues to German pilots that they were passing over cities. All houses had to use thick black curtains or blackout paint to stop any light from showing through their windows. Shop keepers not only had to blackout their windows, but also had to provide means for customers to enter and leave without showing any light.
Jesus in Matthew 5 describes what it means to be a Christ-follower by using this imagery. He says, "a city on a hill cannot be hidden." Stephen in Acts 7 is an example of a shining light in this world as he is interrogated before the religious teachers. I wonder how many of us are living like Stephen and how many of us are living in 'blackout' conditions in this world. Afraid that we might be noticed. Afraid the enemy might see our position. Afraid of the consequences that might happen if we let our light shine. We'll see tomorrow what consequences befall Stephen, so before we get too gung-ho we must also consider the outcome if we do choose to let our light shine.