The Wonder of Luminescence

14 May 2019

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Dear Friends, Colleagues and Churches,

I was recently intrigued by this photo of the ‘Ghost Fungus’ (Omphalotus Nidiformis) – a bioluminescent wonder that pops up in Australia’s temperate forests each autumn. The mushroom’s glow is caused by the same chemical reaction that lights up both fireflies and bioluminescent plankton.

I happen to be a member of a public Facebook group: ‘New South Wales Fungi’, where nearly one thousand members post wonderful and diverse photographs of incredible fungi growing in the forests across NSW. Here too, experts are exceedingly happy to categorise and scientifically name those small fungi that might appear in your backyard on an old stump or damp corner of the garden.

Most often we correlate autumn as a season of gentle decay: vivid colours changing, leaves dropping as our flora readies itself for the impending winter onslaught. This tiny mushroom seems to break rank; it’s an outlier present in an otherwise soon to be dormant season. It shines brightly in the darkness and mist – a vivid reminder of life and energy.

As Christians we are called to shine light in a world of decay and disillusionment. Our quest is to acquire and share the ‘light of Christ’ to a hurting and troubled world.

Readers might associate this mushroom’s common name ‘Ghost’ with a name given to the Spirit of God ‘Holy Ghost’ – ‘In Him there is no darkness at all’! (1 John 1:5) 

It is indeed wonderful and magnificent, that in His creative order, God too creates certain specimens (be they insects, ocean-living organisms and speciality micro flora) that self-generate or reflect light.  There are at least 1500 marine species that luminesce. This blue glow is a microalgae (Noctiuca Scintillans) or ‘Sea Sparkle’ that responds when disturbed at night.

Given we are called to be ‘children of the light’ (Ephesians 5:8) and not hide our light (Matthew 5:14ff) there is no greater privilege than allowing God’s light to shine through our actions and lives.

May it be said that our deeds and works reflected the true light of God’s love.

May it be said that during the autumn season we continued to boldly shine hope and light to a hurting world.

May it be said, in an increasingly secular society, that the church continued to shine brightly the reality of God’s character, His beckoning, to an increasingly hostile world.

I suspect that true discipleship brings attention to the one and true light – the saviour of the Universe. As we live in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, may His life and light bring clarity and direction to those who are lost.

Dr Andrew Ball
Executive Ministry Director