Summary: This sermon deals with disciples as light in a dark world and our need to "let it shine." There is also some help in dealing with the national tragedy at the W. Vir. campus included.
Light The Fire
Introduction: Snuffed Out!
(Use of visual aid…candle lit and then snuffed out). Light is powerful not only because of its practical purpose, but because of it universal symbolism of the truth, purity, and knowledge (light candle). It is said about the Olympic flame that it represents “the light of spirit, knowledge, and life.” God’s first words in creation were, “Let there be light!” Of course, darkness has come to represent all the opposite meanings of light. It is devoid of truth, hope, and life. It inspires fear and doubt. It is the realm of the evil one and he seeks to cloud our minds in his darkness, so that we might not know the light.
This very week, we have seen unspeakable darkness when a man full of darkness unloaded 9mm bullets into his schoolmates at Virginia Tech. We recoil at that darkness and we seek light. We are moved by the images of thousands of students gathered, holding up lit candles into the darkness, and declaring, “Let’s go…Hokies!” I don’t know even know what a “Hokie” is, but for that moment I was a “Hokie” with them.
But eventually the candles were snuffed out (snuff out candle), and darkness enveloped the campus, the town, the state, and the entire nation once again. The sadness would return, the questions increase, and fear and doubt reign. Darkness. Where will they find that light that lasts? You think you know the answer. “Jesus!” He is the Light of the World. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
But how do we communicate that light to those that desperately need it? You see that process is sometimes “lost in translation.” Do we have any way to relevantly communicate that truth is such a desperate and dark situation? If not, then we have lost our relevance. Right after the beatitudes Jesus has some very remarkable statements to share with his disciples, the blessed. Hopefully, in those words, we can rediscover our light and our relevance (read text).
Move 1: Salt of the earth.
Salt is an interesting mineral. It flavors and preserves. Pure salt cannot lose its saltiness, but it can become diluted with other substances and therefore become completely useless. It is important to note that Jesus doesn’t say, “You are like salt” or “You have the salt.” He says that “You are the salt of the earth!”
When Jesus described the “blessed”, the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted; he didn’t want his disciples to get the idea that they had to withdraw from the earth just because they were not in its kingdoms. It is exactly the fact that the disciples are radically different, but involved in the earth that allows them to be salt. The Qumran community called themselves “sons of light” and they withdrew to the hills, forsaking the rest of mankind. Many have thought this was the ideal in Christianity, to withdraw to some secluded place and live isolated for the rest of one’s life. That’s not Jesus’ vision of his disciples. They are the “salt of the earth.”