Created to Shine

Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16
Jesus said: You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
 You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.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 shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
 Sermon from 2.9.14: 

  • Light, in all its forms, is important – primarily because it helps us to see the world around us.
    • Imagine it – a mid-summer storm. The power goes out. We turn to sources of light – candles, flashlights - so that we can continue to see the objects in our homes.
    • Or a winter morning when you’re on your way to work and the sun finally peeks above the horizon, lighting up everything in sight and reminding you that spring will eventually come.
  • Light is the theme of today’s Gospel. In this Gospel, Jesus invites his disciples to recognize the fact that they are created to be lights to the whole world.
  • Today, each of us receives that same reminder. We are all created to shine – to be a light – in a way that allows other people to see God.
  • The Gospel lesson for today is a continuation of last week.  Jesus is talking directly with his 12 disciples. Last week we talked about how this Gospel is from chapter 5. This chapter is really early on in the Gospel. It’s the beginning of Jesus' whole ministry. He has just called his disciples in chapter 4. Then he takes them up a mountain. They sit together. He shares the Beatitudes and then he tells them to shine. 
    • Those verses we read together last week were about what Jesus means when he says “Blessed are you…” when you are persecuted, meek, a peacemaker. He invited his followers to look at the world in a new way.
    • Today’s Gospel is a continuation. Today Jesus says first – you are the salt of the earth. Then he says, “You are the light of the world!” You don’t hide your light – you shine it – so that people can see it and give glory to God.
    • First, Jesus says, “Blessed are you when you live a life of humility, service, peacemaking and compassion.”
    • And then he says, “You are salt and you are light.” Basically, when you live in this way – a way of peacemaking, humility, compassion - you will be a light.
  • Jesus wants his disciples - US - to recognize that they are special. They were created to shine. Not to hide under a basket. Not to blend in with everything else. But to be salt. To add flavor. To be light.
  • A key point about light: It doesn’t shine for its own sake. Light is valuable for what it helps us to see!
  • Let’s pause for a second and think about the sources of light in our lives
    • Rarely would a person say, “Wow! That flashlight is amazing!” as it sits on a shelf turned off. The flashlight doesn’t exist to sit on a shelf. We value the flashlight because when the electricity goes out, it helps us find our way.
    • Same for the headlights on our cars. They don’t exist to be pretty props on the front of the car.
    • Or the light fixtures in the bathroom
    • Or the light in the oven.
    • All these lights are great –because of what they allow us to see.
  • It’s the same when we’re talking about Jesus’ invitation to “let your light shine” – we don’t shine for our own sake - we shine in order that the goodness of God might be witnessed more deeply.
    • That’s why we shine – our lights are like arrows that point to God
  • We don’t have to be a giant spotlight in order to shine. Sometimes as men and women, we put so much pressure on ourselves to shine in some profoundly bright, loud way - like Olympians or famous musicians
    • Actually, any source of light is a good one – sometime the smallest lights make the biggest difference. Any light that points to God – is a beautiful, important light.
    •  I think of the Christmas Eve service at Zion – there’s a moment when there’s only one little candle lit, right before Silent Night. But it’s amazingly powerful – because it shines in such a way that everyone is pointed to Christ.
  • Today we are all invited to shine because we were all created to shine.
    • Don’t let those baskets get in the way – nobody lights a candle and puts it under a basket. There are things in life that can be like baskets that put out our light – anger, insecurities, negative self-talk, bitterness, regret, worry.  
    • But the Holy Spirit is stronger than all these things.
  • Where have you witnessed someone shining their light in the past week? Examples:
    • Parking ramp attendant in Rochester (tell story about Moose)
    • A friend who has been taking her friend to medical appointments for the last few weeks.
    • The volunteers who travel through the hallways bringing treats at the hospital.
    • Olympics – the coaches, the families, the doctors who are there and ready – the people working to keep the ice and snow ready behind the scenes. 
  • There are many ways to shine. There are many ways that you ALREADY shine. And God will continue to shine through you and through this congregation!
  • When we focus on being a light – everything else gets put into perspective
    • The Frustrations, Annoyances, Disagreements, Drama
  • And when we also choose to focus on the light that other people shine, that helps put everything into perspective, too. EVERYONE was created to shine. When we seek out the light in others, it helps us to shine even more brightly.
  • You are a light to the world – shine bright. Amen.

Let us pray: God, shine through us. You created us that we might shine in ways that direct people to you – to your love, grace, forgiveness, justice, and compassion. Direct our paths, that we might light the way for all to see your love. Amen. 

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