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Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

February 5, 2017

Matthew 5:13-20

Pr. Michelle Sevig

(Outline for talk with the children)

·        A few weeks ago my family and I went to a big gathering in Washington D.C.

·        Maybe you heard about? There were thousands of people—adults and children—who attended the Women’s March on Washington.

·        There were gatherings in cities all over the world. A lot of people from Holy Trinity went to the one in Chicago.

·        There were a lot more people than anyone expected; many of them wore pink hats to show unity.

·        But people came together for a lot of different reasons. You could tell by the signs they carried.

·        Thousands of different signs—lots of different messages, some of our favorites were also funny.

·        Black Lives Matter/Hate has no home here, and then a lot more I can’t share in church.

·        In our Gospel story that we just heard, Jesus is with crowds of people on a hillside. He tells them what’s most important to him. And I started thinking what if people made signs from his speech?

·        Last week we heard him say, Blessed are the…peacemakers, the meek, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

·        This week his speech on a hillside continues and he says “You are the Salt!” and “You are light” and “Let your light shine” It’s hard to understand sometimes what Jesus means, but I think it means be kind, share love, help others.

·        Imagine with me if we carried these signs. Imagine if we put these signs in our home. Imagine if we let our light shine and shared Jesus’ love wherever we go.

·        Sing this little light of mine as they walk to their seats.

(Move to the lectern as the congregation sings the song together)

I’ve been singing this song all week. Let is shine, let is shine, let it shine.  In Sunday school we sing the second verse “Hide is under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine.” I think that’s our favorite because we get to shout a loud, emphatic “no!” as a group and remind each other that God’s light shines in us at all times and we cannot/ should not hide it…ever!

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel basket, but puts it on a lampstand, so it gives light to the whole house.”

You are the light of the world. Not you will be, or you should be or you can be if only you do this one thing. But he says you are the light of the world.

Let is shine, let it shine, let it shine.

In these days that have been described as terrifying, hopeless, chaotic and anxious, we need to be assured of this gospel truth; you are light, you are of tremendous value, your live matters. You are light for the world! Jesus declared it so. Do you believe it? Do you hesitate, wondering if this is the right time or place to let your light shine brightly?

For too long many of us have allowed our light to be hidden, even extinguished. But in these days, the light of Christ has been reignited in us and we’ve been busy sharing our light—the light that is kindness, the light of advocacy, light that is love—with strangers and friends alike.

I asked people to tell me how they’ve let their light shine this week or how people have been light to them. Here’s just a few of the responses.

•         A friend who is a chaplain in a hospital told me about a family who donated their young daughter’s organs after a tragic accident. This chaplain sat with the family who received the young donor’s heart--thankful for unimaginable gift and ready to make good use of that gift in service to others in the world.

•         One of our own HT members, and many hundreds more, volunteered as lawyers for the people who were detained in airports all over the country.

•         Someone else volunteered at her local food pantry, then went home and wrote letters to veterans thanking them for their service.

•         Another person received a bowl of homemade soup outside her apartment door with a note from a child that simply said, “I’m sorry your mom died.”

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

            A former classmate of mine says that she’s not very political and has never protested before, but she was motivated to participate in the Women’s March because the gospel compelled her to do so. Pastor Karoline Lewis wrote in her blog that “the gospel is not a viewpoint, not an opinion, not an alternative fact. The Gospel is a truth-teller. So I marched,” she said. “I marched for the Gospel I believe in. The gospel that tells me I am enough and others are as well. The gospel that says God needs me to be the salt of the earth. The gospel that encourages me to speak up for those who have been silenced or have yet to find their voice. The gospel that won’t let me stand on the sidelines but pushes me out into the world God loves so that others might know they are loved and welcomed and worthy.”

            Whether we march or make phone calls, work at the food pantry or give to a new and necessary cause, if we make a meal to share with someone who’s hurting or include someone in conversation who’s usually left out of the circle, we are allowing the love of God to illuminate through us and our good and faithful work. Sometimes it’ll seem like work and sometimes it’ll seem like a natural part of life, barely noticeable that we’re doing anything special at all. But the light and love made known to us in Jesus cannot be hid under a bushel. No!

            For this is our baptismal calling, to proclaim Christ in word and deed, to care for others and the world God made, and to work for justice and peace. Marked with the cross of Christ, dripping wet in the abundance of God’s grace, bearing Christ’s name and his mission to be light for the world.

Let is shine, let it shine, let it shine.