From the viewing point on the top of the Montparnasse Tower in Paris the evening light makes the familiar edifice of the Sacré Coeur stand out over the city that surrounds it. The distant suburbs disappear in the haze, but the houses of Montmartre are varied shades, with some shining as light as the church.
The image for me is of the Church of Christ witnessing to the city, but not only through its structural institution. It is also, and more importantly, those who witness in their homes and everyday lives.
The sunlight does eventually fade, but it moves on elsewhere and the rotations of day and night symbolise for us the eternity within which God dwells.
By contrast the flood-lit Sacré Coeur (image below), attractive in the later evening, will be plunged into darkness. The human-created light is of a different quality all-together and has nothing of the eternal about it.
So it is, we are called to reflect the light of Christ in the world in which we live rather than offer ourselves alone. The Church of Christ, in its grand architecture or its humble homes, can only reflect and witness.
I find another contrast interesting too. Montmartre is perhaps best known as a village of artistic creativity and its night-life, so perhaps it is not the brightest witness to Christian values. However, its name as the Mount of Martyrs springs from the martyrdom of Denis, a local bishop, who was beheaded in 250ad for preaching the Christian gospel. Questions are raised in my mind around how Christian witness may be made in those darker corners of human life. The institutional church stands apart and is often seen as only judgemental and distant, but the personal witness of Christians in everyday life is where the light may be reflected into dark corners. And of course the word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’!