And Matthew in his Gospel immediately references the magnitude of that light by sighting a City which cannot be hidden – this is not a subtle light. But then Matthew takes us immediately back to the intimacy of the light which might be hidden by a Bushel basket. A small washing basket… that light which is within you alone.
There is the great tension within scripture between our great witness to the world, and the quiet intimacy of God with you and how God ignites and inspires in each of us that individually sustaining light sourced at our baptism and also that collective light fuelled through our common life together as a communicant, Jesus receiving people.
It is easy to be a light in a small community, congregation, in a family or even in your relationship. Just by being a polite, and a pleasant individual you are the spark of that flame of God. But to be a light to the nation: to be a light to lighten an entire people, to be known as a light which cannot be extinguished whose consuming fire is the light of Christ, whose heat burns the chaff and the whose presence obliterates the shadows. This is what we are called to be in the Church, local, in the Church of England, in our community and homes.
The light we are called to be in Matthew’s Gospel you might think as a Utopian dream, unrealistic and undeliverable to your life and our community – a light which is so costly – it will consume us – and yes, we are called to be consumed, but also liberated by the light of Christ which we not only follow, but proclaim in our world. The light which illuminates who we truly are as a baptised people is the same light which Matthew knows as Jesus who calls us to be a Gospel people in a Gospel Church, a Gospel light to lighten all peoples.
St Matthew writes, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”.
More often than not these days, I entertain individuals in the vicarage for a cuppa coffee and a slice of cake who tell me what light bringing things you do in this community reflect a community of faith who though love of God let your light shine before others. Foodbank, refugees, hive, pastoral care, neighbourliness etc. . Of course there are those who also tell me the stories of those who in this community walk round with the fire extinguisher – but they are not our narrative, they are the exception.
The rule is that we are committed to such worship that from our worship we see in that love we express towards God the unilluminated parts of our world into which we want to bring light and warmth.
One aspect of this building which I find mildly amusing is that it’s really quite hidden. You only need to go a street away, and you would never know it was here. The wind only needs to blow in a certain direction (which it often does) and you’d never hear the bell tolling. The trees come into full leaf and the neighbours over the road cannot see these stones which are holy!
Yet the light of Christ is not dependent on the visibility of this building. It is however, reliant on you being the visible light of Christ. On you knowing that Christ is the catalyst for your good works, and those works are to be unfettered and encouraged in our world.
This house of prayer is surrounded by homes of domestic bliss, but in a Parish which has only houses and people located within their own lives looking more often than not only into how they can sustain the light and warmth In their homes, the world needs people who are prepared to bring light and warmth of God’s love into others situations a people who are not afraid to loose themselves in order that the light we bear can be the light for all peoples.
Friends, be prepared to not be servants to your own agenda, but to God’s. Be prepared not to be servants of the light which you bear which brings only adulation and love for you. But be bearer of the light which ignites because of your love of God, another persons love of God and so on so forth.
Let God be known as your source of Light, let the light of this sacrament consumed by you, be your witness in the world, and in the church of England.
‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.