Let Your Light Shine
By Beth Demme
The Bajan choir was dressed colorfully as they serenaded us that Sunday morning. Their simple outfits instantly brought even more cheer to an already happy room as they sang “This Little Light of Mine.” Even though this song is usually reserved for children, adults happily sang along, too. The choir director spoke as the choir hummed behind her. In her beautiful island accent, she said:
Everyone has a talent that can shine God’s love. Some of us are still trying to find our talent and I want you to know, it’s okay. Keep looking for it.
The choir resumed its chorus, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.”
It’s easy to forget we each have a talent.
Sometimes it can seem like our individual light doesn’t make any difference in a world already brightened by so many others.
One light—my light, your light—can make a difference.
The proof of this is the electronic sign at the middle school near our home. At the beginning of one school year the sign blinked “School Starts at 3:25 am.” At first, it was funny. Then, it was annoying. Who lets a typo on a school sign go on day after day?
Eventually, I realized the problem wasn’t a typo, it was a burned out lightbulb.
The sign actually said “School Starts at 9:25 am,” but one lightbulb was burned out. The missing light made the 9 look like a 3. The sign didn’t make any sense because one little lightbulb wasn’t on.
If my light isn’t shining, what message is left incomplete? If you hide your light “under a bushel” (as the song goes), what message is left unsaid?
Yes, we are each only one lightbulb on the sign, but the sign doesn’t make sense without every light.
The Apostle Paul didn’t reference lightbulbs (weird, right?), but he did make this point:
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
We have each been given a gift, by the Holy Spirit, for the common good. It’s up to us to discover it and let it shine.
Jesus told a parable about unused and underused talents. (Matthew 25:14-30) In the parable, one person chooses to hide their talent rather than risk disappointing the master. “The master was furious [saying,] ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that!’”
Criminal feels a little harsh to me, until I think of the dark places in the world, in my community, or even in my own soul. Places that could benefit from even a little glimpse of light.
Darkness is powerless in the presence of light.
Think about the effect a tiny nightlight has in a child’s room. Or imagine camping under a night sky pierced with countless stars. Do you notice the darkness? No, you see only the stars.
Each of us is a starlight with the potential to break into the darkness. Imagine how bright the world would be if we each let our light shine.
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