Let Your Light Illuminate The “LAW”
Let us begin with a word of prayer. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Why are we here this morning? I would guess the reason, at least in part, is to seek guidance in our lives. We have been hearing about the LAW in a biblical sense. From the early Biblical times when Moses received the 10 Commandments, the Hebrew people had the guidelines they needed to live in a right relationship with God. 10 rules – it should have been simple. Yet the following books of the Bible seem to tell us about people repeatedly straying from the law, the consequences of doing so and finding the way back.
Our Old Testament reading today from Deuteronomy is a reminder to the people that they can choose life and prosperity by simply following the Law – love the Lord and follow his commandments. Why was it so difficult for the people of God to do this? Perhaps more importantly for us, are we any different?
Fast forward to the time of Christ. Again we are reminded of what is required in order to live out the Law as God intended. Our two Gospel readings today dovetail nicely to simplify the requirements of the law. The Ten Commandments are summarized and compressed into two. Our first reading from Matthew tells us to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbours as ourselves. I believe that one of the things Christ was trying to illustrate here was that it is through loving our neighbours that we actively demonstrate our love for God. The second reading, the parable of the Good Samaritan, brings it all into focus. Encountering an injured man at the side of the road was not in the plans of the Samaritan. He did not choose to go out and find a person needing help in his travels that day. The person was just there. What he did choose was what he did about it. Those who went before him chose to avoid the injured stranger and pass by on the other side. The Samaritan, however, through his choice became the neighbour to the stranger on the road. His love for God showed in his actions. In actively showing care and compassion for those we can see and encounter before us, we do the same for God whom we cannot see.
The words of Jesus at the end of the parable are directive. Like those testing Jesus at the time with the question of, “Who is my neighbour?”, we are told at the end to do as the Samaritan did, “Go and do likewise.”
So, how do we do that? How do we bring that love to a world that so very much needs it?
We all have been given gifts and talents. Sharing those talents is part of how we demonstrate our love. It can be intimidating. Think of your talents as the light within you that you can shine on the darkness in this world.
In our readings from last week we heard, “Jesus says: Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.
So what is it that holds us back? I think most of us see the ways in which we are inadequate. We know what we can’t do and sometimes that blinds us to what we can do. We compare ourselves with others who seem to be so much more accomplished than we are. We hold ourselves back from being all that we can be. We fear failure or that somehow our contribution will be too little or too imperfect.
When we feel that way, we need to remember that Jesus didn’t call the Pharisees and Sadducees to be his disciples. He called people from the working class, fishermen, a tax collector, people from rural backgrounds. Through our imperfections, we are guided towards the light of Christ. We can focus not on what we cannot do, but what we can do. As we truly engage with the work that Christ has called us to do, to follow the law of love, the light of Christ shines in us and through us. We can be love in action and refuse to hate – anyone.
These words of St Teresa of Avila remind us of that connection.
And that my friends, this is how we can let our light shine on the Law.
I would like to finish with a few quotes that may help illustrate the message here.
Leo Tolstoy, 19th century
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
William James, 19th century
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
Will Smith, 21st century
“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”
Martin Luther, 16th century
“This life, therefore, is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
Henry David Thoreau, 19th century
“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.”
Steve Bruce, 20th century
“When people get to invent their own gods, they invent easy gods that demand very little.”
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., 20th century
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
Maya Angelou, 20th century
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
Christ didn’t say it would always be easy. But he did promise through the gift of the spirit, that he would be with you doing his work, shining through you to illuminate the Law of love for a needy world.
Thanks be to God for this opportunity to let our lights shine as we strive to live the Law. Amen