In 2007 I did Field Education in a church in Braintree MA. It was a large old stone building with beautiful stained glass windows in the sanctuary. Each window depicted a different scene from the bible. The church was beautiful though did not make me think of a traditional New England Congregational Church when I was in it. I would often sit with parishioners, some youth and others more mature and discuss these windows. I often found that my conversations focused less upon the stories of those windows and more upon how the light radiated through the pains of colored glass. These conversations often got me to reflect upon the symbolism of light in the Bible from the Old Testament to the New.
As we looked at the windows, I was brought to a very different time in my life when light was also a focus point. As a very young child, no more than 4 or maybe 5, I remember helping my parents with my grandparent’s house after they passed. I remember very little about their house except that I loved it in there. I remember the distinct smell of old wood. I remember the sun porch with the windows that had cranks. But most importantly I remember the antique glass bottles that were kept in the windows and how the sun would shine through making beautifully colored patterns on the wood floors. I remember the warmth of what I felt in those moments and the contentedness I felt as I looked at those colors and that light. So when these scriptures came up in the lectionary, I just knew that God was asking me to preach about the light of Christ.
When we hear about light in the Bible it is often in reference to the light of God alive in the ways in which we live our lives. It is often times connected to the righteous in the Old Testament, whose lives reflected the light of the Holy. Psalm 112 talks of traits that are signs of a person living the “good life”: they are gracious, merciful, deal generously and lend (the meaning of lending coming from Deuteronomy 23: 19-20 which states that they can’t charge interest to other Hebrews), and finally the person who lives the “good life” has an immovable faith.
These were signs of people living in God’s favor, people who lived by God’s commands and allowed God’s work to come first. They worked to have their life’s work reflect God’s goodness. Epictetus, a Greek Stoic Philosopher from the first century AD, wrote, “The beginning of wisdom is the finding of a standard”. It is understood that to project the light of God is to be the standard for which we should try to live our lives. We reflect the will of God; we reflect the love of God; we reflect the care of God to the world. The virtue, with which we live life in his light, will be its own reward in our lives whether or not we experience God’s blessings or hardships.
But Christ would take the teachings of the Rabbis and the songs of the Psalter Singers a step further. To Christ, his disciple shouldn’t just hold the light of God to themselves or hold the important work of God in the lives of the poor and downtrodden off as a distant ideal that sometimes we live into and other times we fail at. But to Christ our lives should be entirely focused on God, as shown in our respect for the law and how it should be used to speak to the needs of humanity.
We are called the salt of the Earth. So, let’s talk about salt. (Open to the floor) We are the salt of the Earth, means our lives need to be lived in such a way as to leave our mark on the world. Our lives need to be as salt, which increases appetite; meaning we need to increase the appetite of the world for the care of one another, for the love of humanity, for the way of Christ. For Jesus, this was no ideal that sometimes his disciples would try to live by. No. This is the standard to which he expected all of his disciples to work towards.
When we strive to make the world a better place through outreach, education, social awareness, and conversations, then we are in fact reflecting the light of the Holy for all to see. We are letting ourselves be as those stained glass windows or those antique bottles in my grandparent’s windows. We become the tool that shines the light of Christ in innumerable directions, all over the world touching lives we never intended to touch. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist and expert on death and dying in the 20th century, wrote “People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within”. God’s light shines in each of us, even when we struggle to see it, even when we doubt its presence, it shines brightly. Allow for God’s light to shine from within reflecting to the world the love of Christ, the presence of God, and the contentment of a life lived in faith.
Someone once said to me, that they were unsure what it meant to let their light shine. It means to live your life with honesty, to genuinely care for the needs of others, and to live into Christ’s message every day. We are Christ’s disciples, which means that we are his hands in the world; we are his voice to the masses; we are the ones asked to share his healing message. Christ said, “You are the salt of the earth … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”. So let your light shine, touch the lives of others, care for the poor and downtrodden, comfort those who mourn, and offer companionship and love to the lonely. This is Christ’s challenge this morning. This is Christ’s call upon life. This is not some far off unattainable ideal; it is the standard for which we are called live life. So how will you let your light shine in the lives of others this week?
 Epictetus 1st Century Greek Philosopher
 Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 20th Century.
 Matthew 5: 13a, and 16, RSV.
(Based on Psalm 112 and Matthew 5: 13-20)