On Sunday February 5th I led worship at Starbeck Chapel. Worship began as we sang, ‘Christ is the world’s light, Christ and none other’ before I led the opening prayers. I gave a children’s address about shining as lights for Jesus, reminding the congregation of the chorus, Jesus bids me shine with a pure, clear light. As Christians we love Jesus, so his light should shine through our lives. We sang, ‘Longing for light, we wait in darkness’, before the Bible readings. The young people took part in the dramatised reading based on Isaiah 58.1-9 and Matthew 5.13-20 was also read. The young people then went to their groups. It was lovely to have young people taking part in worship. We sang, ‘God’s spirit is in my heart,’ before I preached.
The people fail to see the justice of God’s dealings with them in the passage from Isaiah They complained that though they had fasted God had not apparently taken any notice. However the outward ritual of fasting made no difference to the way they conducted their business and how they oppressed their workers. Do they not realise that fasting in that way does not make the Lord listen? However they fast, even if they make sure everyone knows how they are suffering, it will not make the Lord listen if they are not obedient to God in the way they lead their lives. If they were to make God listen, they had feed the hungry, welcome the homeless and clothe those in need. Only then would God respond to their prayers. Psalm 112 also reminded them to show compassion and act justly.
Jesus told the disciples that they were the salt of the earth; they had to have exemplary moral standards. They had to have a good influence on those they met as they shared Jesus’ love with others. Salt is essential to life and Jesus brings life in all its abundance for us to share with those around us; Jesus is just as essential to our lives as salt is. The houses in Palestine were very dark and a light was expected to be seen to bring light to the houses. The lamp was a sauce-boat filled with oil with the wick floating in it. It was not easy to re-light, so they would put the lamp under an earthen bushel measure, when they went out, so that it might burn without risk until they came back. Then the lamp would be placed on the lamp stand so that it lit the house again. A Christian’s faith should be visible to others in their daily life not just in church. We are to be a shining light for Jesus in the way we interact with those we meet in our daily lives. We are to shine for Jesus as we stand up for justice and against exploitation and oppression of the poor and vulnerable. We are not to show our good deeds to say how wonderful we are, but instead our good deeds should glorify our heavenly Father.
Jesus had come to fulfil the Law, even though he was seen as a lawbreaker by the Scribes and the Pharisees. He followed the true law as seen in the 10 Commandments, the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch; the Law and the Prophets referred to the whole Bible. What Jesus objected to was, the many added rules and regulations added by the Scribes to further define the Law, put too much of a burden on the ordinary people. Jesus came to show people what reverence for God and respect for other people was like. Let us be salt and light in our communities as we share the love of Jesus with those we meet.
We sang, ‘Beauty for brokenness’ before I led the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky.’