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Seasons Of Faith 4 Sermon
Matthew 5:14-16
July
22, 2018

 

Sermon Archives
 

 

Matthew 5:14-16

‘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.

May the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father be with us, in the name of his risen son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; Amen.

If you ask my wife where one of her favorite places in the world is, she will tell you without hesitation that it is the lighthouse on Lake Erie at Marblehead. It was built in 1821, and is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation in all of the Great lakes. Adjacent to it is the Keeper’s House, built in the 1880s to house the lighthouse keeper. Both were made part of the State Parks system in 1998.

While watching the British Open yesterday morning from Carnoustie, Scotland, I saw a piece on a nearby lighthouse called, “Bell Rock.” This lighthouse, built in 1811, is the oldest still existing of its kind in the British Isles. It sits some 12 miles off the shore of Dundee, in the bay which is very treacherous to negotiate. It was an engineering marvel of its time, the chief engineer being a man named Robert Stevenson, grandfather of Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote such works as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Treasure Island.

Many folks are fascinated by lighthouses. Built upon picturesque shores of lakes and seas, they serve as a beacon in the darkness of potential danger and risk. There is something peaceful and symbolic about these places that help people center themselves on something greater … something that is a beacon – a light – when things may be dark all around.

Often when we mention “stewardship,” folks only think of an opportunity to be reminded of our need to share what we have and to be part of God’s love and mission in the world. I would not only say that this is just PART of what stewardship is all about … I would say that this is the SECOND part of what stewardship is all about. The first part can be likened to the lighthouses that shine all over the world. Stewardship does not begin with Jesus’ call to be the light of the world. Stewardship begins with the light that Jesus shines in our lives. Like ships at sea, we often do not see the perils that threaten us. Sin, death and the devil do a good job of hiding those perils, or disguising them as safe, or even attractive routes for our lives. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shines a light on those perilous places. Beginning with the Beatitudes, he reminds us that God’s blessings is not only on the rich and happy, but even – and most vividly – on the poor and those who mourn, to name a few. Jesus then goes on to teach us how to pray; he encourages us to not worry about what we are to eat and drink and to not judge others lest we be judged. There are a number of little inspirational nuggets in this sermon, not the least of which is that which we call the golden rule: In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you. I encourage you to read chapters 5 through 7 in Matthew’s gospel this week. What you will discover is something akin to a lighthouse – a beacon even in these days when there is more sunlight than there will be in a few months. That is the gift that Jesus gives us – the gift that Jesus himself is to us; the light of our world. That is the beginning of stewardship.

The rest is our response. For Jesus doesn’t just give us this gift for ourselves only. Jesus gives us this light and then calls us light. “You are the light of the world. A city 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.” This is all good news to us. Because of Jesus, we have God’s light. It is a promise that we need not fear what we cannot see, especially in our future. We do not know how things will commence with our health or our financial security, with our families or our neighborhoods. Who in the world can we trust as a nation? That is in question right now like it has not been for a long time. Uncertainties like this can make a person tend to their own light, save their lights for when it grows darkest, try to protect their own lives for themselves.
But our gospel lesson ends with a verse that we hear at every baptism service: Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. That is the final call of a life of stewardship. That we have this gift, this light – this basis of trust and faith that with Jesus’ presence we can not only survive through it all, but we can keep on loving through it all. How will you let your light shine before others? How will you do it here at Clinton Heights? Now that all of my travels are over, I plan on focusing on our congregational life, especially planning for September and beyond when those activities that have taken a hiatus begin again. The Christian Education ministries here are in a time of transition and are going to need lots of lights from our congregation! Our church council has an open spot now and will have four more spots when elections come back around. Our senior choir and bell choir can use more folks to praise God through music and help lead our worship. When we reach out and feed people at Faith mission, share a meal with our community, or we collect things for the needy of the world, you are being given an opportunity to let you light shine before others so that they can see your good works, AND give glory to your Father in heaven. These are just a few of the ways that, along with your offerings, you can be part of the light of Christ that shines through this congregation.

Just for fun I estimated the number of the miles I have travelled by car, bus or airplane since May 26 (outside of my regular local driving). It came out to be about 18,265 miles. The distance around the world at the equator is 24,902, which means I went almost three-fourths of the way around the world in the last two months! My prayer of thanks is that God put lighthouses along my way at every turn to help me travel safely and to experience God’s good creation in so many different places and people. My prayer of hopefulness is that I lived out my baptism along that way at every turn, showing to others the light of Christ as I seek to live out a life stewarding God’s good gifts given to me with love and grace.

How far have you travelled? How many lights has God put out there for you to beacon the rocks of the shore and guide your way? How have you been called to be light to those around you? It not only happens inside our church, but it happens wherever we travel, near and far. May Jesus continue to shine his light of love and peace into your life, so that your light can shine before others so that they can see your good works, and more importantly, give glory to our Father in heaven; Amen.