Synod Staff Stories with...Pr. Jill Henning

January 07, 2020

"This Little Light of Mine"

Things just seem a little darker once the Christmas lights come down and the holiday decorations get put away and yet as the world returns to its previously scheduled lives, we as the church embark into a new season of the church. Yesterday we celebrated Epiphany, when the Magi followed the star to find the Messiah and as we venture farther into this season of Epiphany every week our lectionary helps us to learn more about who that baby born at Christmas really is. The wise men are barely gone when we meet Jesus in the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John and God declares to the world, before Jesus has done anything of significance in his ministry, that Jesus is God’s beloved Son, with whom God is well pleased. Jesus’ identity is declared and the Holy Spirit descends to empower Jesus.

I love the “epiphany” moments that help us to better understand who Jesus is and why Jesus came. I wonder though how often we recognize the “epiphany” moments in our own lives or in our congregation’s life. While angels didn’t announce our births and wise men didn’t travel afar to come find us following a star, God did make an epiphany about who and whose we are. At our baptisms God called us “God’s beloved” and God declared to the world that we were God’s. God gave us an identity and God sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to become the body of Christ in the world. This identity is more than just in a name but we are called by God to bring the light in the darkness of the world to illuminate God’s presence. “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” we declare, while lighting a candle off of the Christ candle to symbolize the light we are to bear.

The world truly is darker without our light. The world truly is darker without the body of Christ bearing God’s light into the world. The world truly is darker when we don’t let our light shine by our good works so that other can give glory to God for God’s presence through us and through our mission and ministry. We are God’s, our baptism declares that and there is nothing that will ever separate us from God’s love for us but we are also called to bring the light of God’s grace into this dark world, to remind them that they were created in love to love.

This is our call this Epiphany season and every day of our lives. Let your light so shine. For those of you whose light has shined into my life, I give God thanks for you. For those of you whose light shines in the darkened world, I give God thanks for you.

Pastor Jill Henning
Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership and Administration

Photo credit here.
The Rev. Jill Henning
The Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership and Administration will have oversight of the candidacy process, synod assembly, leadership convocation, and will assist with the mobility process in Georgia. She will also develop leadership opportunities throughout the synod. 

Pastor Jill Jeffries Henning received her BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1991 and her MDiv at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 1995. She served Trinity, Lilburn, GA, as co-pastor from 1995 until 2016, when she went on leave from call to undergo treatment for cancer. Beginning July 2018, she volunteered as the Interim Liaison for Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Southeastern Synod.

Throughout her time in the Southeastern Synod, Pastor Henning served on a number of task forces and committees including a variety of roles at Affirm and as the Dean of the Magi Conference. She supported Bishop H. Julian Gordy as the Coordinator of the Deans, 2013 - 2019.  She has been a voting member of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly and was the Volunteer Coordinator and Hospitality Chair for the 2016 ELCA Rostered Ministers Gathering. She is married to Pastor Matt Henning, Community of Grace, Grayson, GA.  Together they have two daughters, Sarah, a recent graduate of the University of Georgia who will be serving as a Young Adult in Global Mission in Mexico next year and Ashleigh who is a rising Junior at Grayson High School and a part of the SESLYO board.