Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 98; 146, Exodus 32:21-34, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 5:11-16
Has anyone born in America since 1920 not heard “This Little Light of Mine?” The lyrics are based on Christ’s words to his disciples: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” He tells them a shining city on a hill cannot be hidden, and a lamp hidden under a bushel is useless. He also tells them salt with no flavor has no purpose. Christ wants his followers to let the world see what God has done for and through us.
Progressive Christians can be tempted to put a dimmer switch on that lamp. We don’t want to be confused with “those” Christians who embarrass us (as though they aren’t part of the same body beloved by Christ), and find ourselves preaching only to the progressive choir – who don’t raise their voices too loudly either. We are more comfortable with sentiments like St. Francis’s “Preach the Gospel at all times; use words if you have to,” sometimes clinging to them so tightly any hint of good news is squeezed out. Some strong progressive voices like Sojourners and the United Church of Christ are reaching out to the larger culture, but by and large we are merely … polite.
Of course there is a balance. Light illuminates, but it also blinds. A sprinkling of salt enhances a dish, but an entire mouthful makes us ill. However we share Christ’s message, our intent should never be to overwhelm or obliterate, but to add love and faith to beautifully season what is already there. God has declared His creation good, so it’s not our job to point out what we believe to be everyone’s flaws, but rather to share with them the good news. We all need reminded of how beloved we are, because believing that can be almost impossible for some of us. Once that belief is solid, we shine from the inside out.
Don’t be afraid to let your light shine, because it will kindle the light in others. Don’t let your salt lose its flavor, because once others get a taste they’ll crave more.
Comfort: Your faith is worth showing people!
Challenge: Allow Christ’s light to shine through you into dark places without turning it on people like an interrogation lamp.
Prayer: God of love and light, thank you for all your good works. May others see them shine through me! Amen.
Discussion: Are you ever tempted to “dim” your light? Or the reverse: blinding people with it? How might you change?
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