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This Little Light of Mine

Author unknown

Matthew 5:13-20

This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

We have known this passage since we were children; it is as familiar as tomorrow's leftovers. We greet it as an old friend--a friend that brings back memories of Sunday School, a friend that recalls a little child singing that song with so much conviction, especially the words--No, I'm gonna let it shine, a friend that brings back memories of childhood and innocence, a friend with whom we are very comfortable. But like a lot of old friends, this friend knows who we are better than most, this friend knows our strengths and knows our failures; this friend loves us in spite of what we may have become. This friend remembers what we once aspired to be, even if we have forgotten; this friend will help us to recover that part of ourselves that we might have left by the wayside somewhere on our journey.

Listen to what our old friend says! You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world. ... Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Our old friend reminds us of what Jesus says we are--salt and light. Basic elements of the earth. We are the people who bring zest into life and dispel the darkness by our presence. That's what our old friend reminds us of. But old friends grow apart over the years. Things change, people change, maybe we grow older and we think we outgrow old friends. I mean how can we dispel the darkness of our world?

We live in a world where most of humanity knows hunger pains all their lives. We live in a world where greed is so great that people don't remember what sacrifice is all about. We live in a world where the fear seems to be overpowering and there is little trust of strangers. We live in a world where people are so wrapped up in their own lives there is little compassion. We live in a world where security and what is expedient matter more than what is just. The darkness seems so overwhelming. And you can say that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness, but really isn't that a little naive. What good is a small light in the midst of our darkness, or a pinch of salt in the blandness of our world.

But wait, says our old friend--Have you baked any bread lately? The next time you do look closely at the recipe. A recipe for 4 loaves of bread calls for shortening, yeast, sugar, milk, water, 10 cups of flour, and two tablespoons of salt--a pinch of salt added to a mountain of flour. What is the pinch of salt compared to everything else, the flour and other ingredients? Try eating bread without salt. It just isn't the same, it tastes flat and bland.

Jesus is saying what you are in comparison to the entire world, you who are poor in spirit, you who mourn, you who hunger, you who wait for God, you who make peace, you who feel you have no power in the world, you who are the church? Why you are the salt and the light that this world so desperately needs. You are the ones to bring zest and brilliance to life.

By the power of God we have been made the salt and light of the earth. But what does that mean in terms of our life as a church and individual Christians? First of all, we need to note some qualities of salt. Salt is a seasoning, it adds tang and zest to food, it makes good food taste even better. As Christians this is what we are to be in this world. People who add zest and flavor to the blandness of our world, people who make God's gift of life taste even better, people who proclaim to the world--O taste, and see that the Lord is good. We are a people who will bring out the God flavors in this world--compassion, kindness, mercy, hope, and justice. We are a people who will make this world come alive, much like our mouths come alive, when we put a little of red hot peppers on our tongue. God has given us something special in Jesus Christ. This something that transforms our life, gives us hope in the midst of despair, joy in the midst of sorrow, confidence in the struggles of life. As God's people we hold up another way of life, by what we do and what we say, a way that doesn't center on ourselves but on God.

Salt also heals. One of the best remedies for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salt water and one of the best places in the world to go for skin disorders is the Dead Sea. As people soak in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, the salt purifies the skin and brings healing. As God's people we are to be the healing agents in this world, bringing forgiveness to those who sit in the darkness of their own sin, bringing Christ's word of life to those who are crippled by the fear of death, bringing Christ's word of acceptance and wholeness to those who have been excluded for most of their lives. As salt heals, it also bites and stings. As Christians there should be a bite to us, a sting that makes the world around us a little uncomfortable. For if there is no sting some things may never be healed. A relationship will never be restored unless the hurt is remembered and shared. Justice will never happen unless the injustice is held up and made public. Hope will never be born unless the despair is faced and named. New life will never happen unless the old life is allowed to die.

There is another thing Jesus says about you, our old friend reminds us. He said--You are the light of the world. For once the world sees you enter a church you are identified with Christ. Once you connect yourselves with a church it changes the relationship you have with your co-workers, your friends, your neighbors and maybe even some members of your own family. Jesus statement means that the church does evangelism whether it wants to or not. By evangelism I don't mean going out and trying to fill up the pews for Sunday morning, it is more serious than that. It is living a Christ-like life. It means that you accept others as Christ accepts you, with no reservation. It means that you listen to other people's fear, despair, and sin and share with them the grace you have received from Jesus Christ. It means that you are always ready to forgive instead of holding grudges. It means that you bring Christ's presence to the one who is lonely. It means praying for the ones you are having problems with. It means being patient with those you find irritating, showing them the love Christ shows you. It means not keeping silent when a racial remark is said. It means that people will notice your God by what you do and what you say and who you are. And they will want to know that God.

In a world where people are manipulated, ignored, abused, oppressed and degraded, a person bringing the light of God's love is a bringer of life.

Our old friend just wanted to remind us what Jesus said we are, and as we listen we may think that we can't be all those things, that we can't live up to Jesus' demands. I know, says our old friend. No one can be the salt of the earth or the light of the world by themselves, only God can do this. Remember the words of the Psalmist --'Yes, thou dost light my lamp; the Lord God lightens my darkness. As the people of God we have been given the power to be compassionate, to be merciful, to be forgiving, to be generous, to be just. This is what it means to let your light so shine. When these things happen the darkness will be overpowered. Then shall your light break forth like the dawn...and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Our old friend says to us-- If these things aren't happening in your church or in your life as a Christian, you've lost your saltiness and power in this world. Turn to God that your saltines may be restored. Turn to God that your light might be as a city set high on a hill, so that all may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

This little light of mine I'm gonna Let it shine, Put it under a bushel, No, I'm gonna let it shine. Not gonna' blow it out, No, I'm gonna' let it shine I thought I outgrew my old friend, and maybe you did too. But our Old friend reminds us of the precious gift we have been given by our Lord Jesus christ and the demand that gift makes on us.

Almighty God; you have brought light into our world through Jesus Christ. Through him we have been forgiven, we have been healed, we have been accepted, and we are sent out that others might come into that light. Keep us salty and let us not hide our light. Give us courage to share our faith in word and deed. Amen