Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A City on a Hill

As I mentioned last month, our session meetings at MDPC begin with a time of group lectio divina. The method is this: the moderator selects a passage of scripture and offers some brief reflections on why he chose it. Then he reads it. We break into groups of three and each person in the group reads it aloud. Then each one comments on what words in the passage stood out and why, followed by a time of silent reflection.

Last night's passage was the very familiar passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5: 14-17.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 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.
The second sentence jumped out at me last night. Why did Jesus talk about a city on a hill in the middle of a talking about light and lamps?

A city on a hill is both vulnerable, because it cannot be hidden, and protected, because it is very difficult for an enemy to scale a hill and overcome the city's defenders. Is this a metaphor for the faithful church which cannot and should not hide itself in the culture of the day? Would that mean that God will protect such a church from its enemies?

Then I wondered why this sentence leapt out at me. Maybe because our increasingly sour and negative national atmosphere needs the example of the church as that faithful city on a hill? How can we do that? For me, that means consciously reducing the amount of time spent with the media. I can keep up with the events of the day without wallowing in them. Then I can become more balanced and faithful and hopefully can be a little light in my corner of the world.

Of course the Houston area is a city on a swamp (er...bayou), not a city on a hill. But still!


ROBERTA said...

LOVE that artwork. It relates so well to that passage. And lectio is such a holy form of deep prayer - engaging both mind and body - can you tell i'm a big fan? :)

Presbyterian Gal said...

I am also struggling with the sour and negative news and wondering the same thing about pulling away from the media. On top of a souring home situation that has me wondering if it's time for me to climb a personal hill and put the cards on the table.

And that is a very good analogy for the church. The true church. The Sermon on the Mount's a good reminder to stay the course.

Love the graphic.

Kathrynzj said...

Your last full paragraph is right where I am. I am not going to bury my head in the sand, but no more endless rhetoric and a renewed effort to focus on what is important.

Thanks QG. Miss you!

ps - Loved your article in Presbyterians Today!