March 15, 2020

15March2020 Steve Martin – Salt and Light

Passage: Matthew 5: 13-17
Service Type:

Salt and Light during the Corona Virus Crisis

Jesus taught his disciplines that they were a city on a hill. What does this mean for his followers 2,000 later living through the Covid 19 pandemic?
The story of the lighthouse at Beachy Head on the south coast of England provides a great modern-day parable to guide us.

Stage 1 - Indifference - for centuries sailors regularly lost their lives as boats were shipwrecked in the treacherous seas around Beachy Head. No one cared enough to do anything. Are we, Jesus' followers, guilty of being indifferent to the 'shipwrecked' lives around us? What can we do differently so that our light shines, as Jesus taught?

Stage 2 - Individual action - in the late 1600s Parson Jonathan Darby, a local clergyman, was so distressed at the numbers of shipwrecked sailors he had to bury that he started a one-man campaign to warn people of the dangers. He dug out a cave in the cliff and spend nights there armed with lanterns to warn passing ships of the danger. His heroic action saved many lives but when he died nothing more was done for over 100 years.

Stage 3 -Irrelevance - In Oct 1828 the local MP John 'Mad Jack' Fuller mobilised action to build the first lighthouse at Beachy Head. By 1834 there was a new granite state-of-the art lighthouse known as Belle Tout with 30 lamps that could be seen 23 miles away on clear nights. But in bad weather the lighthouse was often swathed in sea fog and couldn't be seen at all. The chalk cliff top which it was built on was also been carved away by the sea so that its foundations became unstable. The lighthouse was a symbol of much of the church - well intentioned but unfit for the purpose that it was designed for and unable to save lives when it mattered most. It was finally decommissioned in 1902 and has since been used as a film set, family home and is now a luxury bed and Breakfast.

Stage 4 - Incarnation - The lighthouse which replaced Belle Tout was built in the sea where it wasn't vulnerable to sea fog or cliff erosion. It is a picture of the incarnation. 'The word became flesh and dwelt among us'. Jesus's followers are called to be involved closely with our communities. Distinctive but not distant. In the same, we shouldn't shrink away from the coming pandemic. Like generations of Christians before us, for whom plagues provided an opportunity to live out the gospel by caring for the sick and ministering to the dying, we can ask God to give us the wisdom to know how best to serve our community at this time so that we are genuinely salt and lights shining the darkness.

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