Search This Blog

Monday, February 27, 2017

February 26, 2016

1st Reading: Exodus 24:12-18 
2nd Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

We went camping last summer on Orcas Island for 5 nights. It seemed like the tent was always in disarray. I don't need things to be absolutely tidy when we're camping, but if I've made the bed and sorted the laundry, you'd think it might stay that way. It was raining quite a bit and Sterling was going in the tent and jumping on the bed and throwing blankets and pillows all over. He just has so much energy. One of the families we met had a boy about Sterling's age. His parents had this brilliant idea. They brought an extra tent just for their kid to jump around in. That preserved the sleeping tent for actual sleeping and kept the mess and chaos contained to the other one for the most part.

Maybe poor Peter is just trying to keep the chaos contained when he offers to make three tents. However, this doesn't seem to be the direction God is going, so back down the mountain they go to heal the sick on their way to Jerusalem and the cross. 

Our family goes camping for several reasons. We go camping to get away from home. We go camping because it is a fun, inexpensive vacation. We go camping to experience nature. We go camping to break up our routine. We go camping to be healed by nature. I was just watching Big Bang Theory, so it must be true. Leonard and Penny and Sheldon and Amy were heading out to spend time at a cabin in the forest. They were talking about the power of nature—that people who walk through campus to their college classes retain more of what they learn than if they drive there. Some of our favorite memories are our camping trips.

One thing Sterling loves best about camping and hiking are the waterfalls. There are several waterfalls on Orcas Island, and on out hike Sterling didn't want to leave the waterfall. It was so loud and powerful and awe-inspiring! 

Peter and James and John are having a similar experience. They are having this incredible experience of awe and wonder. They have summited the mountain and they could stay all day. They are basking in God's presence. Their enthusiasm and excitement actually cloud their vision, though. They are so excited about the first part of their experience, seeing Moses and Elijah, that they don't realize that there is more, that God's not done yet. Peter tries to capture the experience. He's got his Instamatic Camera there and he wants everyone to squeeze in for the shot. He wants to preserve this moment for always. But he doesn't realize that the snapshot he is trying to take will not at all resemble the experience he is having. This experience is part of a bigger picture, the whole history of experience of God's presence with us from the beginning of time, through Moses and Elijah, in and out of exile, leading to Jesus and his ministry and this moment. But God has more. God interrupts Peter. God speaks about Jesus and who he is and scares the daylights out of the disciples. Then, Jesus reaches out to them and makes contact. They see Jesus alone. They go down the mountain. They heal people and fail to heal people. They misunderstand and they get it. They are welcomed in Jerusalem to shouts of Hosanna. They share the Passover. They deny their Rabbi and Savior. He is betrayed and arrested. He goes to trial. He is killed in a brutal way. He is in the tomb three days. He appears to them on the road. And on an on. 

They don't want that moment on the mountaintop to end, but this moment is revealing that God has always been with them, in slavery in Egypt, in the wilderness, in the exile, on the sabbath, at each meal, in every relationship, in every moment. When that vision and that voice go, who do they see, but Jesus himself alone, the voice still echoing, “Listen to him!” Once in a great while we stand in the midst of a vision, so convinced and overwhelmed to be in God's presence. But normally we stand next to an ordinary-looking guy and we're still standing in God's presence. Or we're at the foot of the cross weeping, or at the deathbed of a friend, weeping, and we're standing in God's presence. Or we're driving past a family doing homework under the lights of 7-11 because they are homeless and we are standing in God's presence. 
We do take a hint from our son and stand and enjoy waterfalls. Why rush off? But waterfalls are rare, and God's presence and power is not. Moments of awe upon the mountaintop are rare, but God's presence and power is not. Once we wrenched Sterling away from this captivating moment, we found other signs of God's presence with us. Up the trail a ways, we crossed several streams that eventually feed into the waterfall. There is something so beautiful and holy about a the trickling of a little stream. It's music is unmatched. God is present. 
We stood among some amazingly tall trees covered with moss or some overturned trees with the roots shooting up into the sky, and we felt the dramatic presence of God. In that moment time is collapsed. We can picture the tree seed on the ground. We can picture it taking root. A tiny tree, then growing larger, birds nesting, insects crawling, and God there through it all. Then in a moment, the tree falls, and we can look into the future. All the people who walk past this dramatic reminder of how small we are, the slow decay of the downed tree, all the creatures that live in it and chew it up, until it becomes the soil that grows another tree. Is God only there in the dramatic moment where it takes our breath away? It is more breathtaking to picture God's presence through the whole journey.

Wednesday night begins our Lenten journey. These 40 days in the wilderness correspond with Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, cementing in him and convincing us of what kind of savior he would be and who his ministry would serve. These 40 days correspond with the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering around in the wilderness, when they were discovering what it meant that God was their God and they were God's people and when they were learning to trust God.

That's what Lent is for us. It is a time to get back to basics. We're not going to be carrying heavy loads on this wilderness camping trip. We pack light. That's part of trusting. We're learning who we are. That is partly about what we can live without. The Israelites wandering 40 years in the wilderness had become so accustomed to being slaves that they kept begging God to take them back to Egypt. It takes some time to break habits. We get to consider in what ways we are enslaved. Who are the masters that we let rule over us? In what ways have we been bound to addictions, and partisanism, and the almighty dollar, and other's expectations? We learn in these 40 days that God is leading us to freedom, even if it is uncomfortable and new. We learn who we really are without all that extra stuff, comforts we had in Egypt or distractions that keep us from freedom. We learn what we're made of, what we're capable of. And we learn who and what we are not, namely in charge, or entitled. We learn in 40 days how much we really need God and really need each other. We learn to pray. We learn to be generous. We learn to love. And we learn to receive love—not the kind of approval of everything we do, but the kind of love that challenges us and makes us think for ourselves and makes us work together, and makes us love our enemies.

Lent is a time to practice noticing that God has always been with us, to train ourselves to see God's presence with us in this moment and this one and this one, whether it is a roaring waterfall of a moment or a little musical trickle, whether it is a dramatic tree root, or a little sliver under our finger, whether it is a moment of joy or a moment of grief. It is a time to let go of the thought that God is only with us in the dramatic moments. It is a time to feel Jesus reach out to us and see Jesus himself alone.

Moses stood on the mountain and he was surrounded by a cloud. I can't imagine how disorienting that must have been. Peter stood beholding this image of Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus and he was completely disoriented. He knew he stood in the presence of God, but he didn't know what to do with that. He thought he would enshrine it, put a leash on it, capture it so he'd know where he could always find it. We stand disoriented in God's presence. As soon as we try to explain it and define it and capture it, it gets away from us, because God's presence isn't in one place or time, but it is always and forever and everywhere. We get to look for that presence in the moment and the next moment and in each other and in the stranger and in the enemy. 

God can't be contained either in a tent or any of our explanations or ideas of who God is. So God invites us, not to contain the chaos and disorientation, like the family with the extra tent, or Peter trying to build three tents, but to walk in that disorientation and chaos with God by our side, and to walk with our brothers and sisters who are in it and let them know they aren't alone. We're invited to walk down that mountainside into the thick of it, to eventually pack up the campsite and get back to work, healing, loving, walking, looking, and listening, until we are aware of God's presence constantly and powerfully with us and our neighbor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 19, 2017

Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48 
1st Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

When I was a kid, all the rules were around not inconveniencing dad. Don't talk with your mouth full because that irritated dad. Go to bed at 8 pm, so that dad could have the TV to himself. Do whatever mom said, or she would complain to dad and interrupt the ball game. Inconveniencing dad brought harsh consequences, so we found that we got by pretty well by avoiding dad, and sadly most of us kids are still doing so. We could break the rules, as long as dad didn't find out.

God's rules, the 10 Commandments, invite us to consider how our actions might impact another person, but this time it isn't dad, it is our neighbor. Our neighbor is not an afterthought and inconvenience. Our neighbor is central and essential—to be considered first, partly because when neighbors cooperate and relate well, it is good for everyone. And you may remember when Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he gave the story of the good Samaritan, a story about a foreigner who was a good neighbor to a man attacked by robbers and left by the road to die. 

God's rules, unlike my father's rules, are not to be followed out of fear, but for our own good and for abundant life to be lived by each person. Not only does God require us in the commandments to consider our neighbor, but God has done them for us. In everything, God puts us first, even though we are often bad neighbors to God. It is God who makes the grapes grow and shares that bounty with us. We are the needy in God's eyes. Likewise, we are to share the gleanings with those in need. God tells us the truth and doesn't hide things from us. God doesn't take advantage of us or our disabilities to hurt us. Likewise, we don't do that to others. God judges with justice, without favoritism. That is how we are to behave toward each other. God is love. So we as God's people are loving, too. There is nothing that God asks of us, that God doesn't do for us, first, and in order for God's food, God's justice, God's love to reach all of God's children, we cannot be hoarding it and stealing it, we must let that love flow out to our neighbor. 

The times I treasured with my dad, were the times he modeled a life of love, generosity, fearlessness, and kindness. I treasured the times on the church softball team, when he was the coach, stretching himself to open the game in prayer, cheering on the players, and relating to our neighboring churches. I treasured the times our family, though needy, would put together a box of holiday surprises for some family worse off than us with food and presents and goodies, and we would all pile in the minivan. We kids would wait in the car down the block and here would come our parents running to hide so the person would never know who was so thoughtful and kind as to bring a little light into an otherwise dark time.

The softball team and the secret boxes of gifts were times when we looked beyond what was required and reveled in God's generosity to us. They were acts of resistance against all that divides us. In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus talks about the rules and laws. We have already read in Paul's letter to the church in Corinth that our rules and laws are foolish. Jesus takes those rules and laws and shows us what to do to resist foolish rules and laws. He names how things are done in in his time and he proposes an alternative that exposes the foolishness and lack of justice of the law in the first place.

Laws allow violence. In Jesus' time, they allowed taking from someone who took from someone else. In times more ancient than Jesus', a village might be burnt to the ground and all the people killed because someone insulted someone else. If you remember, in the Old Testament, when Joseph's sister Dinah was raped, Dinah's brothers told the family that if they were all circumcised then their sister would marry her attacker. If you remember, they agree to be circumcised, and while they are recovering, Joseph's brothers attacked and killed the whole family. When we read that story we never know what to be most horrified about, because the whole thing is disturbing. However, as time went on, people decided, “The punishment must fit the crime.” Let's make this proportional. If someone puts out an eye, then only an eye can be taken, not the death penalty, and not the whole village. That's what “An eye for an eye” meant then—an improvement.

There are rules. We may obey or disobey. When they are unjust or foolish, we often choos fight or flight. Now Jesus is suggesting another way. It is a shocking way. Jesus says, “Do not resist and evildoer.” Let me explain. It sounds like we should be doormats. However this word began to be translated this way with the King James version, because King James wanted the people to do whatever he told them and not resist. However the sentence really says, “Do not violently resist the evildoer.” Jesus is suggesting a nonviolent approach that is neither rolling over and accepting unjust laws, not taking up arms and fighting and killing to get our way. He suggests a third way. This is what it looks like.

If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. People hit with the right hand, in Jesus' day. The left hand is unclean. If you use it, you have 10 days of purification you have to go through. To hit someone on the right cheek with the right hand is to backhand someone. It still means the same thing today. It is an insult. If someone turns their cheek, it is cheeky. It is daring someone to hit them again. Only this time, it would have to be a hit with the front of the hand, which is a hit between equals. To turn the other cheek is to assert yourself as an equal and to defy the other person.

If someone makes you carry their pack a mile, which was the law, carry it two miles. Remember when Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry Jesus' cross as they walked up to Golgotha? That was an example of this rule. So Jesus says to carry it two miles. A soldier could ask for one mile, but any further than that, the soldier could be punished. Can you imagine the soldier on the side of the road begging for the return of his pack? To carry the pack further is an act of resistance that shows the foolishness of the original law.

These acts of nonviolent resistance are surprising—they aren't the usual reaction, so people will have to stop and think about how to best respond. And that's what God wants us to do, is not to take the rules for granted or go through the motions, but to question what is this law? Who does it benefit? Who does it hurt? Does it fit with the rules and laws that God gives us? Does this match how God treats us? 

Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. It isn't going to happen. But the word for “perfect” actually is “whole” or “complete.” We can't be whole or complete without each other, without our enemy, without the foreigner, without the one we reject, Jesus. But Jesus has chosen to knit us together into one body and we get to work together doing God's work, healing the world, loving, forgiving, and praying for our enemies, and resisting evil and injustice.

God resists our unjust rules. Our rules say that you have to be like us to fit in and belong. Jesus says all are God's children. Our rules say you have to earn your rewards. Jesus says we all fall short, but we all need food, shelter, and love. Our rules say you must have your papers to live in this country. Jesus says, “Love your neighbor.” God constantly reminds the Israelites, “You shall not oppress a foreigner. You know the heart of a foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 23:9 “When a foreigner sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34. Over and over, God reminds them of where they came from and gives them laws that put their neighbor's needs in front of them, because what is good for the neighbor and foreigner is good for everyone and means that God's love impartially reaches every last person, because we are all God's children.

When I think of all that God has done for us, how God has taken us from being broken, lost, sinners, who have been fearful and alone, to welcoming us into God's family and loves us as sons and daughters, even though we have done nothing deserving of that love, I feel called to open my heart, to share the gleanings from the great harvest. And when I think of all the forces that defy God and deny people their humanity in this world, I get very frustrated and angry. I go between wanting to give up and imagining myself using violence to get my way, even though I am a peace-loving person and I know that violence accomplishes nothing. Jesus invites us to be creative. Jesus invites us to find a third way to resist injustice, a way that reveals it for what it is. I don't know what that looks like and I know I won't discover it on my own. Only in community, in the body of Christ, do we find the whole. Our bodies can be easily crushed, but not the body of Christ. It was once crushed, but rose to new life. So we won't give up, but we'll work together to resist the evil forces of this world until everyone in God's family, and in God's creation, knows God's love.

I had a most heartbreaking relational meeting this week with the pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy, the church that uses this space and regarding whom the council is starting to use the language of “partner” rather than “renter.” We are partners in the body of Christ. We do this ministry in the community in two different languages, but we all love God and our unity is in Christ.

The Church of God of Prophecy consists mainly of undocumented immigrants who came to this country to give their children a better life. Our economy needed them. Now many of them have an uncertain future. This family has had direct experience of law enforcement putting a gun in the face of a child. Now several families fear deportation and being separated from their two young children who will not be permitted to go to Mexico because they are not Mexican citizens, but would be put up for adoption by strangers. I think of the law and I ask, is this how God treats us? Does God throw out the immigrant? Does God separate families? 

I asked Pastor Juan what we could do to help. He said he'd like a list of telephone numbers of people to call to pick up his kids if he is picked up by Immigration Enforcement Officers, someone who could look after the kids until guardians and friends can get there. I said I would talk to you about it. And I asked if we could have a prayer service together. Our unity is not based on the language we speak. It isn't based on the color of our skin. It isn't based on our documentation or place of birth, it is in our Savior Jesus, who died for us, who died for them that they might have new life, that no one should live in fear, that we would all be brothers and sisters despite our differences. Some might accuse me of being political. However, I don't think either party has offered us solid answers regarding immigration. We have a problem of families being ripped apart, of creating orphans when we can't support the foster kids we already have. So we get to consider, who is my brother and sister and I hope, like the Samaritan on the road, we find ourselves pulling people out of ditches instead of pushing them in. I think we may find ourselves being ministered to by the one we persecuted and could never have imagined coming to our aid. Pastor Juan said on Monday through his son Juan Jr., “Thank you for all you've done. From the beginning, you've all been very welcoming.” It was gratitude to you all, he was expressing. And he said, “We love this country. That hasn't changed.” 

Whether you think this is an unjust law or not, I hope you will consider the human laws that we live with and instead of taking them for granted to look and see who they benefit and whether they are foolish. And if they are, let us find a way to stand against them, as Jesus stood against the foolish powers of death and handed us new life as a free gift of God's grace.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 12, 2017

Gospel: Matthew 5:21-37 
1st Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

I went pretty much by the book with my baby boy when he was born, like a lot of first-time mothers are. I hear the first one, you go by the book, and after that you've learned more how to think for yourself and feel a little more free to experiment. Since my baby was growing properly and eating what I put before him, going by the book worked for me. It was 6 months of mother's milk only. He grew so fast I had wrist supports for a few months because my arms couldn't support his weight. On his six month birthday, he had his first food, ground up oats mixed into milk. After that he was introduced to one food at a time for a week, adding to what he already had tried, until he had all the food groups. All his food was organic, all was homemade. All went together to make a healthy bouncing baby boy.

But I didn't just give him that food to make him bigger. Some of it was to make him smarter. Most of it was to keep him healthy. And part of it was the experience of sitting down to a meal together, looking one another in the eye, communicating, and being a family.

God also likes feeding God's children. We begin with the food that is easier for us to digest. Life is given to us in more easily digestible terms. There are good guys and bad guys, certain rules to obey without question, and we're not expected to handle information we're not ready for. We accept what other people tell us, our parents and our pastor. We don't have a lot of choice about it.

But as we grow in faith, we try foods we've never tried before, we're encouraged to eat things we don't particularly like, and we start having to chew and use a utensil. As we mature, we learn more about our world, we find out that many things are shades of grey instead of being so clear cut, and we're expected to communicate with people we disagree with in other ways than hitting and yelling. We have a chance to question everything we held as true just because our parents taught us, and we are invited to examine the faith that was handed down to us and decide whether to make it our own.

Of course our faith journey is always on the move—what we could stomach before, we can't anymore, and what our bodies and minds once needed changes. We find that faith isn't just between me and God, but that we're part of something bigger than ourselves. It is both a pain in the neck and other key areas, because other followers don't do things the way I like, and it is a blessing because the gifts of others fills the gaps in my own gifts and we can do so much more together. As we grow in faith, we begin to see God in the struggles and blessings in the conflicts and find peace in the storm. And at times we go back to eating baby food. Sometimes a tall glass of milk just hits the spot. Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than a bowl of Cheerios.

Moses has led his people out of slavery into the desert. They suffered under slavery, however they liked being spoon-fed. They long for the food they ate in Egypt. But God is leading them on a wilderness walk to teach them who they can trust to provide their food. The taste of freedom is new to them. They aren't sure they are ready for such a thing, because it requires them to think for themselves and to go through some trials. However God is feeding them and continues to offer it to them. God knows this wilderness experience will mature their faith and their relationship with God. God hopes that their wilderness experience will change their hearts. God gives them the commandments and ordinances and decrees not to control them, but to give them life,--long life, abundant life.

Paul is writing to the Corinthians. He brought this community into this world from infancy and fed them by hand. He loves this church in Corinth, these believers. But he has some new expectations of them, that they would grow up a little bit and act their age. Instead, they are breaking into factions and arguing and fighting. Paul is offering them some food that is a little challenging to their pallets and that is the reminder of who provides food for us all, God, and who we owe our allegiance to, God.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus is teaching the Disciples. They've tried the food that is the commandments. Many of them probably feel like they are doing ok on them. The commandments have become staples of their diet. However, Jesus is challenging them to try some new dishes. They will recognize some familiar ingredients, but God wants more for them. The commandments had become a way of justifying themselves, a checklist for people to say they were better than others. However, God wants more than a checklist. God wants a changed heart, a changed orientation, a focus away from showing what a good person I am, to putting God first, a change from worshipping myself and making idol of my works, to worshipping God and living a new abundant life. 

God wants to change our hearts so that we can receive new new life and live abundantly. We show what is in our hearts by our actions. God isn't interested in the actions alone, going through the motions of bringing gifts to the altar. Going and doing the mature thing, being reconciled to people you have hurt or disappointed, is what God wants to see. That is going to make for abundant life for you, more than coming to God with your gift of money or flocks or grains. 

I read the scripture about tearing your eye out or cutting off your arm, and I am often puzzled. It is such a violent image. At times I have heard people use this passage to say that if a member of the body of Christ sins then they should be cut off or shunned. However, because it is right next to this passage about going to your brother or sister who you have wronged and making amends, I can't believe that is what Jesus means. Also, that doesn't sound like Jesus, to me. 

This reading struck me in a different way, this time. How often do we cut off people who we disagree with? How often do we tear other people apart with no regard to how much God loves them? Why are we so hard on other people, violent even, with our words and actions? Why are we not appalled at the idea of cutting people off, at least as appalled as we are at the idea of tearing our own eye out. Instead, we have to grow up. We have to know that if we cut off one another, the same as if we cut off even a small part of our body, the whole body suffers. We have to stop cutting each other off just because we disagree. Our unity is in Christ, period. 

Instead of tearing one another apart and destroying the body of Christ, we are invited to do some self-reflection. When we feel self-justified, and that we've done everything right, we are invited to examine our thoughts, our hearts, and turn to God. When we feel like we have what we deserve, God reminds us that we all fall short, that none of us has a leg to stand on when we start to examine our hearts. We all stand on the same footing whether we have committed murder or just thought about it, whether we are divorced or have committed adultery in our imagination, whether we say the “F word” or “I swear!” None of us is innocent. We all need God's mercy and love and generosity. God reminds us that we don't create all the good things we have. God reminds us where all good things come from, not from what we deserve, but because of God's abundant grace. And God reminds us of what all these good gifts from God are for, and that is for sharing, not for hoarding or holding over someone's head. Let's all take the challenge and take a good long look at ourselves and how we can better reflect the light and love of Christ, throw out what doesn't reflect that and mature into the people of faith God is calling us to.

Today, we are all invited to sit down at the table together and eat the food God has prepared for us, and all be nourished. We are invited to grow up and sit down with others who are in the body of Christ with us. We are invited to enjoy the meal. We are invited to grow our faith. We are invited to look one another in the eye and have conversations and be curious and be honest. We have a lot to digest, a lot to absorb, and the biggest part is how loved each one of us is. And when we know there is enough love to go around, we can just sit back and enjoy the meal in the presence of God and all God's children.

Before us is a spread of delicious, nutritious, nourishing food. Beside us are our brothers and sisters and even some we might call enemies, co-workers with us. Around us shines the light of God. There is peace. There is life. There is hope. Blessings are shared. Faith grows. People act in mature ways. We look to God, not to ourselves. We remember what really matters. We put our faith and hope in what is good and what lasts. We examine our own lives and make changes for the better. We try things we've never tried and we find fulfillment. All are fed. All are loved. All have gifts to share. All belong to God. We don't have to wait until the next life to live in the Kingdom of God where every mouth is fed and everyone is invited to the table. This peaceable Kingdom is desperately needed here on earth, in fact Jesus came to bring it through each of us. 

Gather round the table of God. The dinner bell is ringing. All are invited to the meal of life. Receive God's nourishing love. Share your bread with others. Be nourished. Receive health. Take your place in the family and grow up in faith to welcome others to the table until all know God's love.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

February 5, 2017

Gospel: Matthew 5:13-20 Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9a

I invite the kids to act out:

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Jesus came to bring light and hope to people who are struggling and for us to share that light, too.

Act out the light shining. What might that look like?

It isn't just about actual light from the sun, but being the light is a way of life. The things we're good at and that we work really hard on are like a light giving hope to people, helping them, and bringing happiness to them.

There is a song I want to teach you called “This little Gospel light of mine.” Sing some of it for them and have them repeat it.

This little light of mine comes from the Bible reading we just read, “You are the light of the world.”

It became a song of the Civil Rights Movement. Some people were telling others they weren't as good as them because of the color of their skin, but lots of people knew that wasn't true and they sang this song to say, “God made us all, no matter our skin color. We all have gifts. We all have a light to shine, gifts to share, hope and love to give.” People sang that song to remind themselves that they are the light and to tell those who were being unkind that God loved and valued them and no one could take away that light.

This song has been sung many times over the years. It was sung again by an artist named Odetta, and along with her sang the Harlem Boys Choir, on television a couple of days after our country was attacked on September 11, 2001. Lots of people felt afraid and angry and were hurting, but those kids sang that song to say, “Nothing can stop God's light shining. We're going to sing. We're going to have hope and God's light will keep shining.”

It is always a good time to shine God's light, because there are always people who need it who are having problems. We shine a light when we help people who are hungry or cold or sad or alone or sick or afraid or lost or fighting. We have reason to hope because God's light never runs out of batteries and that's the light that shines through us.

When I was a little girl, my grandma had prisms hanging from candle holders on her dining room table and when the sun came in the window, they would make rainbows all over the room. I am giving you each a prism to remind you that God's light is shining and you are like a prism, when it shines through you, you make rainbows that bring joy and hope to others. You are shining with God's light when you sing, play, smile, share, learn, and just be you. Thank you for shining God's light and giving us hope.