Ted And The Light
It was the fifth Sunday of the month and as was traditional at our church on a fifth Sunday evening, we had a special type of worship service in which members of the congregation volunteered to lead in worship through vocal or instrumental solos, poetry readings and testimonies. It had been a wonderful worship expe- rience but God had more in store for us than what was on the planned agenda.
The last volunteer had just finished her beautiful solo, “The Via Dolorosa,” and the audience had been visibly moved. And I thought to myself, “What a wonderful way to close out the service.” My husband, who was our Minister of Music, stepped up to the podium and made a few “closing comments” and was about to call on someone to dismiss the service with prayer when “Ted” stood up from his seat on the second row.
“Ted” was one of our van ministry people. He lived in a foster home in which he had, reportedly, re- ceived mistreatment and neglect. “Ted’s” lack of communication skills and verbal acuity could have been the result of having lived most of his life in a world of darkness caused by a progressive eye condition that robbed him of his sight in his early childhood.
“Ted” was one of our most faithful members, regardless of his handicap, and the only thing that pre- vented him from attending worship was a lack of transportation or the unconcern of his unchurched foster family. But “Ted” was there that night and although he had stood alone while the rest of the congregation remained seated during one of the congregational hymns, that was nothing out of the ordinary, for this was a common place occurrence for “Ted” and our people had long since become accustomed to the sight of him standing all by himself, swaying to and fro with the beat of the music. When “Ted” stood up that night, every- one thought he was just standing at the wrong time again and ignored his actions----until he stepped out in the aisle. Suddenly, all eyes turned toward “Ted” who had begun making his way, haltingly, down the aisle toward the front. When he reached the front, he stood on the floor in front of the podium and my husband said, “”Ted”, do you have something you’d like to say?” “Ted’s” chin was resting on his chest and he didn’t respond. Just as Paul was about to repeat his question, “Ted’s” chin lifted and he turned his face toward heaven. Then in a strong, clear, perfectly pitched voice with a heavy nasal tone and an almost metronome-perfect beat “Ted” began to sing I Saw the Light.
Just as suddenly as he had started, he ended the song and began his retreat to his seat, never speaking a word. The congregation sat in total silence. Paul was speechless. You could have heard a butterfly flutter or could that have been the “brush of angel wings” or, perhaps, the whisper of the Holy Spirit? The only sound detectable was the muted sound of sniffing and sobs throughout the congregation.
“Ted” may never see the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree or marvel at the millions of stars visible in a clear cloudless sky; he may never stand in awe at the sight of the Aurelia Borealis or look with amazement on the dazzling display of man-made neon lights in Times Square or Las Vegas, but “Ted” has seen “The Light of the World” and in comparison, all other lights are but dim and insignificant imitations.
- written by Lynda Barkley.