Sun and Moon

11th November 2022

Learning from Brother Sun and Sister Moon

“Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon […]
In the heavens you have made her bright, precious and fair.”

Canticle of Brother Son, Francis of Assisi

I have included this prayer by St Francis of Assisi, the mystic and itinerant preacher who lived a life of poverty, and also left us with many beautiful prayers. This is the start of the Ballad of Brother Son and Sister Moon, a song that goes through naming and celebrating the different parts of God’s creation.

And you will observe the different ways the Sun and the Moon are described. The Sun is radiant, powerful, full of splendour and bears the likeness of the Most High God. The sun is strong and confident in its path through the day. Even when it is hidden by clouds, it is constant. We can feel its power even on our skin.

The moon is different. She is bright, precious and fair. But the moon attracts our attention not by generating its own light, but by reflecting it. It generates no light of its own volition – it can only reflect its cool bathing light from its source, the sun.

And we can learn a great deal about spiritual life from the light of the sun and moon. There are people, and I am often one of them, who work very hard to generate heat and light the way the sun does. They
believe in their own power to make life possible. The responsibility to light a path for others weighs heavily on them. Maybe you are one of these people too – and as leaders in the church, with responsibility and people relying on you, it’s inevitable you will feel like this some of the time.

I know people who even feel shame because they are not the sun. They expect themselves to generate light to fill the sky and are hard on themselves when they can’t.

But it might help us, this evening and in the future as leaders, if we remember that we are called to be more like the moon than the sun. Like the moon, we shine light in the darkness by reflecting God’s light,
the Sun, Jesus. It is not our own luminescence which is most significant, but how we reflect the Lord’s light.

But of course the strength and reliability of our light depends on our relationship to the source, so the closer and we are to Christ, the more space we make in our lives for this vital relationship, the more able we are to share the light and love of God with others.

True leadership then is more about being than doing – about being in a relationship with God, about being our true selves. If we are moving at all, it is only in our orbit around the Sun, our Lord, not by constantly running trying to do or be everything on behalf of everyone.

It’s also about accepting ourselves as the fallible creatures that we are. Like the moon which shows us many different faces and moods, we experience changes and phases in our spiritual life. There are times
when our light is full and round, and others when it is just a thin sliver. There are times when we are not able to reflect much light at all and that’s ok.

As a person in a leadership role, both in church and perhaps also in your work and family life, do you feel like you are often trying to be the sun? Burn out is a real thing and it happens because we are striving to
be the light source when all we are called to do is soak up the sun’s rays and let it gently illuminate those around us.

This is really about acknowledging all you do as leaders, all you give of yourselves, but also about encouraging you to be restored, to rest, to absorb more of the light of God’s love, to be replenished, that you might go back to your roles refreshed and more free to be who God has called you to be in them.