Pastor’s Ponderings

How Will the Church Be Lighted?

Matthew 5:14-16

In the most famous sermon by the most famous Preacher who has ever walked the earth (The Sermon on the Mount is that famous sermon, and Jesus is that famous Preacher), Jesus tells his disciples:

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (The Gospel According to Matthew 5:14-16)

The people of God – the Church – are like a city that is built on top of a high hill. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. It is exposed for all to see. By day its houses and buildings stand out on their landscape, and at night the many lights shining out of its windows make it impossible to miss.

Our Christianity should be present in the way we treat our employers, or our subordinates if we are supervisors, in the way we relate to our classmates and friends and neighbors, in the way we drive our vehicles, in the way we treat the cashier at the store or the waitress at the restaurant, in the way we play a game, and in the daily language we use. In every place, in every situation, in every role or responsibility in which we live and move and have our being, we are to shine the light of eternal life we’ve received from God in Christ.

As Jesus called Himself the “Light of the World” in John’s gospel account (John 8:12), so, to are we who claim to be His followers supposed to be light in a dark world. And, boy, doesn’t our society seem to be darker as time moves on.

I am a patriot; I love America – I always have. I enjoy highlighting the thoughts of our nation’s founding fathers, especially so during a month when many of us have our thoughts turn to our country on Independence Day. John Winthrop was a pastor and the first governor of Massachusetts Bay. He preached a sermon he titled, “A Model of Christian Charity,” aboard the Arbella in 1630 as Winthrop and other Puritans sailed across the Atlantic. That sermon opened the American experiment. In it Winthrop mentioned a “city on a hill,” referring to the Church.

I came across this anonymous piece entitled, “How Will the Church be Lighted.” As you read it, ask God to show you how you can be a part of Trinity Church’s continuing “lighting project.”

Several centuries ago in a mountain village in Europe, a wealthy nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. He made a good decision. He decided to build them a church. No one was permitted to see the plans or the inside of the church until it was finished.

At its grand opening, the people gathered and marveled at the beauty of the new church. Everything had been thought of and included. It was a masterpiece. But then someone said, “Wait a minute! Where are the lamps? It is really quite dark in here. How will the church be lighted?”

The nobleman pointed to some brackets in the walls, and then he gave each family a lamp, which they were to bring with them each time they came to worship. “Each time you are here'” the nobleman said, “The place where you are seated will be lighted. Each time you are not here, that place will be dark. This is to remind you that whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God’s house will be dark.”

The poet Edward Everett Hale put it like this:

I am only one,
but still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

What if every member of your church supported the church just as you do? What kind of church would we be?

What if every single member served the church, attended the church, loved the church, shared the church, and gave to the church exactly as you do? What kind of church would we be?

This piece was written before the coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021. It remains relevant even so today. Have a great July – pray hard for VBS if you’re not able to help. It meets Monday, July 12 to Friday, July 16. See you Sunday? Pastor Daren