14 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.
We who live in the Kansas City area greatly miss worshiping together in our sanctuaries. But thanks to our gifted worship and technology teams, the pandemic has actually allowed us to shine our light into thousands more lives, nationally and internationally, through online worship services and classes and by the Sunday worship service broadcasts on Kansas City’s KSHB TV. Please pray for the talented, adaptable people who have made this light shine so brightly in these dark times.
Today we can control and create light far more easily people in Jesus' day could. Oh, they had oil lamps, candles and torches—but no one then could even imagine a phrase like “light pollution.” We can light empty parking lots more brightly at 2 a.m. than the main street of Rome or Jerusalem was ever lit. Jesus used one of the Bible’s most potent symbols to say his followers “are the light of the world.” “The Bible is enveloped by the imagery of light, both literally and figuratively. At the beginning of the biblical narrative, physical light springs forth as the first created thing (Gen 1:3–4). At the end of the story the light of God obliterates all traces of darkness: ‘And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light’ (Rev 22:5). Between these two beacons the imagery of light makes nearly two hundred appearances.”*
Lord Jesus, in this darkened, lonely, hurting world, make me more and more transparent so that your light can shine out of me like a beacon, spreading love, grace and peace. Amen.
* Article “Light” in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 509.
** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 1 Chapters 1–10 (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 125.
When you go shopping for light bulbs, do you pay any attention to the lumens or watts? Or do you just pick up a package of bulbs and go?
As you probably know, lumens and watts are measures of brightness in light bulbs. There are many different types and strengths of light bulbs. But they all have one purpose: to shine light before people.
I am probably overthinking it, but I try to get the light bulb that provides the right amount of light to fit the room or fit the occasion. I might put a 40-watt light bulb on a nightstand lamp for reading purposes. Or a 75-watt light bulb for a small room. Or a 100-watt light bulb to fill a larger, open living room. Different ways to shine the light.
Today’s Scripture passage reminds us that we are all human light bulbs to shine our light before people so that we can glorify God. The strength of our light can vary depending on the occasion. Your light can shine when helping a neighbor, or donating to pop-up food drives, or singing in the church choir or playing in the orchestra, or serving on a mission trip, or peacefully protesting social injustice, etc. There are so many opportunities to shine your light. But your light bulb has to be turned “on”, and not burned out or turned “off.”
Are you a 40-watt light bulb? A 75-watt bulb? Or a 100-watt bulb? Or maybe you are a 3-way light bulb depending on the service opportunity. Whatever wattage of light bulb you are, your light is a blessing to the community.
On a side note, here’s an adaptation of the old joke, “How many retired CFO’s does it take to change a light bulb?” Just one. Yes, I can change a light bulb all by myself.
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