Friday, September 16, 2011

light under a bushel

'No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel-basket.' So says Jesus in the gospel reading from morning prayer today, 'but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.' The metaphor is drawn from the kind of houses those listening to him would have lived in. Small, with all the family in one room of an evening - quite likely only having the one room. No street lights to cast an amber glow through the window once the sun set. The lamp you lit would have been all the light you had. And if you were going to light it, why on earth hide it under a basket? Putting your smoky little oil lamp under a tightly woven bushel basket would have been a crazy thing to do.

Jesus is talking about the light of faith. 'Let your light shine,' he says. It' s if you have faith that you shouldn't hide it, but let it shine before others. How? Through good works. Faith has to express itself in action in the world. If that's not happening, then there's a basket over the lamp. and a basket with a lamp over provides light to no one. Not others. Not you. And a smoky lamp under a tightly woven basket will soon go out.

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