Psalm 63:1-8(9-11), 98 (Morning)
Psalm 103 (Evening)
Show of hands–who remembers when halogen lighting suddenly became all the rage in the 1990’s? I figured many of you would. It was pretty exciting that they could make a room quite bright with a daylight-style light for reading and close work. CFL lights and LED lights weren’t yet commercially feasible, and halogens opened up a whole new world in room lighting.
Ok, this next question is probably going to evoke some sheepish grins. How many of you mistakenly put one of those halogen lights too close to a curtain, or the drywall, and set it ablaze? (Yeah, me too.) We just neglected to consider all the heat they generated.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus suggests that it’s not a good idea to put your light under a bushel basket. One might set THAT ablaze as well.
However, it’s very unlikely Jesus had fire safety in mind as the context of his parable. That said, his words “let your light shine before others” does create a little heat in the form of tension.
“Wait a minute!” you might be thinking. “Isn’t this the same guy who said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them,” and “when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” in the very next chapter of Matthew?”
Well…um…yeah…it is. Feeling a little warm yet?
When we look at Jesus’ statement in the context of the paragraph, though, he seems more interested in pointing out the level of illumination that occurs when we put all those lights together for a common purpose. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
We live in a world where the dynamic illuminating tension vacillates through a spectrum that ranges from the mega-watt spotlights of celebrity-dom to the faint firefly-sized blink of an anonymous good work. Those tiny lights get lost in the shuffle, sometimes, and it’s probably too easy to say, “I didn’t see it.” Perhaps the thing to remember is that these words are also coming from the same Jesus who says it’s ok to sweep the floor bare to find that one prized coin, to look beyond what’s a reasonable time frame for that lost sheep, and to give all that we have for the pearl of great price. Building that city full of light involves encouraging those with lights under bushels to lift the lid and join their lights with the community’s. It means using our own lights as searchlights instead of simply a display.
When is a time you’ve encountered someone’s beautiful light hiding under a bushel basket? How did you use your light to draw those hidden lights into a community that created a greater light?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.
“Weigel lamp on a stand and the growing seed” by Johann Christoph Weigel – http://www.pitts.emory.edu/woodcuts/1695Bibl/00006350.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons