31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
December 10, 2023
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Jesus says ‘we are the salt of the earth’ to remind his followers of our calling to enhance the lives of others, to bring out the best in them just like salt brings out the best flavor in other foods.
Jesus says, ‘we are the light of the world, a city built on a hill’ called to brighten the lives of others, called to bring sunshine and light just as a lamp does on a dreary day or in the middle of the night.
But sometimes I just want to be a cat, taking a nap for hours in a sun puddle. I just want to lay there soaking up the S-O-N’s rays, being filled up with the light of God’s Word. Sometimes, I don’t want to do anything other than be renewed and replenished by God’s Holy Spirit. Can I get an amen?
And here is the good news. God wants nothing more than to pour God’s light into our lives. God wants to fill us up with God’s Word. God wants to bring renewal to our exhausted, over burdened, broken lives. God wants to feed and nurture and strengthen us with Jesus, the light of the world.
That is the good news, and here is the challenging news. God wants to fill us up with God’s light for a purpose. So we will ‘share the light, share the light.’
Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth; Jesus calls us to be the light of the world; Jesus calls us to be witnesses, sharing the light of the SON with all the world, filling others up with hope, love, joy, and peace.
We all need light. We all need physical light to survive; we all need spiritual light to thrive. Reflect for a moment on how Jesus, the light of the world, makes your life better. Reflect on those moments when you are tempted to turn to fear, anxiety, anger, hopeless, and instead, because of Jesus, because of God’s presence in your life, you turn to hope, to peace, to joy even.
Reflect on a moment when you felt like you were journeying or even stuck in the darkness, and Christ’s light came to you and led you to healing and wholeness.
Last winter, two small groups in our church read Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelismtogether. Every church says they want to reach out to more people. Not enough Christians are clear about why. Why reach out to people about church and Jesus? Why do evangelism? Why share the Light of the world?
In “Unbinding the Gospel”, Martha Grace Reese writes, “At its core, evangelism is people sharing with others their personal understandings that life is better, richer, truer if one has faith in Christ and lives in a faith community.” (Unbinding, Reese, pg 6)
Sounds a lot like Jeffrey Curtis Poor’s words:
Jesus offers us a better way to live. A way that actually leads to love, joy, peace, kindness, the things you and I are actually after.” (Jeffery Curtis Poor, Jan 16, 2023, The Powerful Meaning of John 8:12 (I am the Light of the World), rethinknow.org)
I grew up in Christian community. Even in college, I worked for a church and was surrounded by Christian community at church and at an inter-faith group. I began attending both though because I missed my home church. I missed being part of a community and the support and joy it brought into my life. That church and group not only provided me with community, they also nurtured my faith, enabled me to use my gifts and talents, and helped me hear my calling from God.
And this calling, nurturing other Christians as we journey with Jesus, has led to untold blessings in my life – even when life did not feel so blessed. Following Jesus, being a part of Christ’s church, means that I have people to pray for me, to pray with me, to help carry the worries of the world and there is so much we are worried about in the world these days.
Following Jesus, being a part of Christ’s church, has brought people into my life who remind me to hope when I feel hopeless, who encourage me to be more loving when I’m feeling the opposite, who lift up for me the joy, the sheer joy found in this life and this world.
My life is better for following Jesus Christ. My life is better because of the Light of the world. Why wouldn’t I want to share my love of God and God’s love for us with others?
Why wouldn’t I want to share this joy with the twenty-something, the sixty-something, who is living alone – perhaps for the first time and feeling incredibly lonely? Why wouldn’t I want to share with them that God is always with them, that there is a community that wants to be their community and listen to what makes them happy, what makes them sad, what worries them in the middle of the night?
And how about those who feel trapped by addiction, their own or someone else’s or those who feel smothered by grief? Jesus invites us to share with them the good news that they are not alone in this fight for healing and wholeness, the good news that even in the midst of addiction, depression, grief, and feelings of unworthiness, even then, especially then, God is with them. God loves them.
The same is true for the person who is going through life, wondering if anyone sees them, wondering if anyone appreciates all of the hard work they are doing for their family, our community, our world. They, too, need the light of the world.
We all do, and God has invited us, yes, each one of us, to be the salt of the earth, enhancing others’ lives; to be the light of the world, brightening and encouraging others; to be witnesses to the Light – sharing how our lives are richer, better, truer because of Jesus, the Light of the world.
In these Advent days, soak up the light of the world; soak up the light of Jesus Christ. Be filled with God’s hope, peace, love, and joy and then reflect that light and love. Reflect Christ’s light to the person who is lonely. Reflect God’s light to the person who feels trapped and joyless. Reflect God’s light to the person who feels depleted, exhausted, unappreciated and unnoticed.
Reflect the light and share the peace, joy, hope, healing, love and wholeness that following Jesus, believing in Jesus, embracing the Light of the world brings into your life.