Let Your Light Shine

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Sermon for Pentecost 14: Let Your Light Shine

“YOU are the light of the world.  A city build on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works, and give glory to your father in heaven.”

Dear friends in Christ, dear people of Grace, grace to you and peace…

Long ago, many of us were expected to learn Bible verses by heart.  Sometines by Sunday School teachers and sometimes with gold stars attached.

That practice has perhaps fallen by the wayside, but sometimes I still think it’s a good idea.  And there’s one verse I would like us all to know this fall, so let’s say it now—a little at a time:

Let your light so shine before others

That they may see your good works

And give glory to your father in heaven.

This verse was given to each of us at our baptism – whether we were three weeks old or 80 when we were baptized – we were given a light – a candle – and a mission, and it was this –

Let your light so shine before others/ that they may see your good works/ and give glory to your father in heaven.

And this fall we are going to hold this verse up to the light and look at all of its facets, and look at all of the ways that God calls us to shine.

So  — today the first thing I want to do is show you something.       This is big – and it was expensive.  And it was on the list.    Everyone told us that you had to have one of these in order to be prepared.  Water.  Food.  Flashlights.  Candles and matches.

So we went out looking for all the things on the list and we ended up with this pretty big, and pretty impressive flashlight.

And then you know what – we couldn’t find any D batteries ANYWHERE.

As far as I could tell there were no D batteries anywhere in Conroe or Montgomery.

We have batteries NOW – but – too late.

It doesn’t do any good to have an impressive flashlight if it doesn’t work – right?  The flashlight is not as important as the light it brings.

It made me think more about that verse, our theme verse. And what it means.

Let your light so shine before others

That they may see your good works

And give glory to your father in heaven.

I’m thinking about why the flashlight was on the list of things to have in our “hurricane kit” and of course that is in case it’s dark, and the electricity goes out, and we need to see.

That’s what it’s for FIRST.

The first thing we do is make sure we are okay, or at least as okay as we can be.

But the light doesn’t end there, does it?

One thing I’ve learned about since I’ve come here is that the our synod encourages us to be “72 hour Lutherans”, which is to say we should have supplies to last for at least 72 hours in case of a storm.

But the next thing that I noticed is that the provision is not jUSt for us.

If we are prepared for ourselves, then we are prepared to help others.  And that’s what I heard that people from Grace were doing right after the storm.

They were out there helping their neighbors when the water started coming into their houses.

They helped neighbors move furniture.  They were letting friends stay with them.  They were volunteering their time.

They were helping evacuate their neighbors.  They had their lights – not just for their own safety – but for others.

Let your light so shine before others

That they may see your good works

And give glory to your father in heaven.

The next thing I notice is this:  Jesus says, Let YOUR light shine before others, and you know what, He doesn’t just mean your individual “Little light.”

IT’s hard to notice in English, (Unless you say ‘all y’all), but when Jesus says YOU are the light of the world, he is really saying YOU all are the light of the world.

He’s not just saying “Jennifer is the light of the world” individual by herself, or “Darryl is the light of the world” or that “Jaxson” or “Ava” or Connor

– is the light of the world – although our individual actions matter – but that Grace is the light of the world – that together we are the light of the world.

We actually CAN’T do it ourselves.

We need each other – like that small lovely verse in Matthew 18: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of you.”

Where two or three or forty or one hundred are gathered – YOU ALL are the light of the world.

We need each other.

We need each other for the encouragement we give, and we need each other for the gifts we share, and we need each other just because that’s the way God planned it.

YOU ALL are the light of the world.

And:  Let your light shine before others

That they may see your good works

And give glory to your father in heaven.

Jesus doesn’t say “You should be” – he says “You are.”

He says that ‘You all are” because “I am.”

It is his light that is our light.

So, I have a confession to make.

This is a stewardship sermon, and there was a point where I was going to say that our resources – the resources that we give – are like the batteries – and that the light can’t shine without them.

But that’s not true.

It’s true that the resources that we give – our finances, our talents, our time – are all important and necessary – but they aren’t the battieries.

And they aren’t the matches.

The batteries and the matches and the light – that’s the power of the Holy Spirit – that’s the love of Jesus.

That’s the grace of God.

Maybe the resources are sort of lke the flashlight that we put the batteries into – or like the candle that the matches light – or like the mirror – but the image – the image is the image of God.

And that’s a gift, and that’s a promise.

You are the light of the world.  You were made in the image of God.  How do you – you all – reflect God?  How are we going to reflect God – here at Grace?

This is a stewardship sermon, which means that it’s about how we will use all of the resources God has entrusted to us – to serve God – to reflect God.

It’s about how Grace will gather in Grace, will grow in Grace and will Go in Grace in the next year.

It’s about how we will reflect the light, which is a gift in the first place, and how we will recognize all of the gifts around us – the wisdom of the elder, the wonder of the child,

the gifts of our strengths and our weaknesses, our wealth and our poverty.

Let your light so shine before others

That they may see your good works

And give glory to your Father in heaven.

We saw – in the midst of so much devastation in the past two weeks – we saw that light too – didn’t we?

We saw people pulling together.

We saw people giving their time, their skills and yes, even their reosurces because they knew – even if just for a moment – that we belong to each other.

Even more – we belong to God.  It is the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection that shines this truth.  We belong to God because Jesus died for each and every precious one of us.

How do you reflect God?

Let your light so shine before others

That they may see your good works

And give glory to your Father in heaven.

You ARE the light of the world.

YOU are.  YOU ALL are.

Oh, what love he can shine in us…

AMEN

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