Dearly Beloved, Grace and Peace to you. Loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn. —Isaiah 58.6, 8
It is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. —2 Corinthians 4.6, 8-10
Jesus said, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Six days later, Jesus was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. —from Mark 8.32 - 9.6
When I'm weary or lost and my way is dim, those who shed light on my path and show me the way are not those who are comfortable and successful. The ones who rise as a light in the darkness and enlighten my heart are those who live with generosity and courage, who struggle with patience and suffer in love, who shelter the weak and defend the powerless, who sit with the lonely and keep vigil with the suffering, who stand up for justice and are in solidarity with the poor. They shine with joy amidst suffering and with the light of peace amidst other's anxieties. They are the ones who pray for peace from behind bars, and whose loved ones are imprisoned, who face death with gentleness, who work for healing. They speak out on behalf of the ignored and exploited; they stand up for justice; they willingly face the callousness of systems and the anger of those who are entrenched in power and privilege. They are the ones who walk with abuse victims and work for justice for immigrants, who tend the dying, who care for the children no one wants, who endure grief without bitterness and love without reward. They are the ones who follow Jesus' way of compassion and self-giving, who give of their lives for the sake of love and healing and justice. They give light to the world. They shine in my darkness; they illumine my way; they give my heart joy and courage like the rising of the sun. In the valley of the shadow of death, they glow with the light of resurrection, and I give thanks.
I pray that with them by God's grace I may always behold God's light and receive God's grace, and shine with their hope for the healing of the world. And may you, God's Beloved, shine with the light of God's peace. You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine, that others may see, and glorify God. Deep Blessings, Pastor Steve
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