Sunday, August 12, 2018

Let it Shine

Born as a children's song, "This Little Light of Mine" was transformed by the civil rights movement into an anthem of singular power.

Angela Hsieh/NPR

 “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.
Matthew 5  (NRSV)
This weekend is the first anniversary of the Charlottesville, Virginia Unite the Right Rally where white nationalists and counter-protesters clashed violently last year, resulting in the death of a 32-year-old woman. In the aftermath President Trump demonstrated a profound lack of moral leadership. In anticipation the city declared a state of emergency in order to provide maximum law enforcement in the event of more clashes. It's such a sad state of affairs, but I hope that by the end of this evening peace will have prevailed, not just an avoidance of violence.
Last year a group of brave clergy gathered in protest of the white nationalists and they planned to stay silent throughout. As the tensions escalated one of the pastors spontaneously began to sing, and she chose This Little Light of Mine. People around them joined in, a statement in song against the darkness of racism which resonated with the Civil Rights Movement of the 50's and 60's.
I grew up singing this chorus as part of Vacation Bible School rather than Sunday School -- who knows why -- and it was always a rather jaunty rendition. I had no idea that it was an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement which was gaining momentum in those years of my childhood.
It has endured, and somehow migrated across the Atlantic Ocean into the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. We even sang it at the covenanting service of our son Isaac in his new pastoral charge because of the Sermon on the Mount text.
If you'd like to learn more about the song and listen to some varied and impressive versions, click on these two links.

From light to darkness? I've got some thoughts on the Perseid Meteor Shower in my Groundling blog today

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