Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses. And the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. - Exodus 34:29-30
"This Little Light of Mine" can be a little bit like cotton candy. Sweet and fluffy and perfectly nice...in small quantities. But when one's daughter requests the Raffi version for the 12th time in row? One could be forgiven for pining for the days a cassette could be flung out the window of a moving car.
But "This Little Light of Mine" was not always kids' stuff.
In the hands of Fannie Lou Hamer, "This Little Light of Mine" was a rallying cry, a battle flag flying in the winds of the Civil Rights movement. She organized, marched and fought for voting rights—all with songs on her lips and scripture in her heart. She let her light shine.
And because she let her light shine, Fannie Lou Hamer was threatened, harassed, and shot at.
Because here's the thing. When someone lets the light of God shine through them, it can make people afraid. The Israelites were afraid when they saw Moses' face shining—even though it was the light of God. And people were afraid when they saw Fannie Lou Hamer's light shining—even though it was the light of God.
Go ahead and sing "This Little Light of Mine." Just please know, if you sing it like Fannie Lou Hamer, it can be the beginning of holy trouble.
God give me the courage to be a vessel for Your light, a channel for Your grace, a laborer in the vineyard of Your peaceable Realm.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.