This Little Light

Light of Christ -1 The Collect[1] for the Second Sunday after Epiphany reminds us that Christ Jesus is the light of the world and Christians also are to illumine the world with the Gospel. The Collect for today can be best summarized with the words, “Let your little light shine.” Or, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

The prayer is,

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth…[2]

The collect takes its meaning from a verse from the Gospel according to John where Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”[3] Jesus makes it even clearer when, in the Gospel according to Matthew, he tells his followers that they will do more than walk in the light of Christ but they too will be that light. Jesus said,

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. 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.[4]

Of course, this is not an instruction to walk around with candles or flashlights (or as the British say, “torches”) shining light in people’s faces, but instead by our words and actions we become sources of light to those in need of light.

Sometimes, the light of Christ is portrayed as a lighthouse sending a beacon across a dark and angry sea. ALighthouse beacon is usually associated with light houses or also airport towers. Those are big structures that send light out during the night to guide ships away from danger and airplanes to a safe landing field. Being a beacon, however, for many may be too big of a project.

Have you ever thought of this? A light no matter how small can be seen for miles in pitch darkness. Soldiers are trained not to light up a cigarette at night in fear it will give the enemy a target. The smallest lights can be seen from the international space station. The dim lights of distant stars or planets can be seen by the naked eye. Light, no matter how small, is pervasive. So to be the light of Christ may mean that we allow ourselves, by words and actions, to shine in the darkness of the world’s troubles no matter how small our light may be. So our prayer for this Epiphany Season week is that our little lights should shine.

There is a Welch children’s song that teaches no matter how small our light may be, it is of value beyond measure. The song is,

Let your little light shine shine shine

Let your little light shine shine shine

There could be someone deep in the valley

trying to get home

it could be me and it could be you

It could be your brother or your sister too

There could be someone deep in the valley trying to get home

So let your little light shine shine shine…[5]

CandleWales is a rough and mountainous country with deep valleys. The little Welch children’s song reminds them us they had a duty to put a candle in the window and guide home the weary traveler and those in need of a warm welcome home. The message of Jesus is also in this little song of light. If we have a light to shine, we are not to hide it under a bushel basket as Jesus taught and Matthew reports, but put it in a place where others can benefit from it and lighten their dark places.

Therefore, according to the prayer for the Second Sunday of the Epiphany Season, those who have heard the Gospel have a duty to let the Gospel light shine, and to be that Gospel light—not only by words but also by actions.

I like the traditional Sunday school song about light as much as the Welsh children’s song. It teaches us that the light we have may not be a beacon but only that small light that can be seen in utter darkness. You may remember this song from Sunday school days,

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.[6]

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Every day, every day, every day, every way,

Gonna let my little light shine.

Light that shines is the light of love,

Hides the darkness from above,

Shines on me and it shines on you,

Shows you what the power of love can do.

Shine my light both bright and clear,

Shine my light both far and near,

In every dark corner that I find,

Let my little light shine.

The song continues by counting the gifts of God we obtain day by day. On Sunday we are given the gift of love, on Monday the peace from above, on Tuesday a more faith, on Wednesday more grace, on Thursday we watch and pray, on Friday God tells us what to say, and on Saturday we receive power divine.

The Collect offered this week tells us who Jesus is and, as importantly, tells us who we are to be; recall in ourOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA prayer we say, “Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory…” We have asked God to let us shine with the glory of Christ. Further, and this is important, we have be set alight by his words and his sacraments. We can live a whole Christian life without one or the other, but it is far better when the words of the Gospel are demonstrated through the love of the sacraments.

Ultimately, however, if the prayer offered has power, the little light of each of Christian will become a beacon. The Church, that is those are Christ’s disciples, becomes the lighthouse for the sailor, the pilot in the sky, the traveler in the valley, and all those who need guidance, direction, help through the darkness of life’s travails.♦


1] According to Merriam-Webster a Collect is a short prayer comprising an invocation, petition, and conclusion; specifically often capitalized:  one preceding the Eucharistic Scripture readings and varying with the day. The word is from Medieval Latin collecta (short for oratio ad collectam prayer upon assembly), from Late Latin, assembly, from Latin, assemblage,

[2] Collect for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany, The Book of Common Prayer.

[3] John 8;12.

[4] Matthew 5:14-16.

[5] www. heart-songs.org/songs/let-your-little-light-shine

[6]  http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/t029.html

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