The Pastor’s Pen: December 30, 2018

The rock band, Chicago, recorded the song, “One Little Candle” that ends with, “…and if everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be.” Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, when we commemorate the coming of Christ, has ended. It is now the season of Christmas. The Light we had expectantly waited, is now here. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King!” Even though Christmas acknowledges that the baby born in a manger is the light of the world, the shadows all around are as unyielding as ever. With the Federal government in a political stalemate over the funding of a southern border wall, 800,000 people won’t receive regularly scheduled paychecks, which will cause many to struggle to make ends meet. This shadow of darkness now hangs over two-thirds of furloughed employees who do not support the project. In the face of commemorating and celebrating the Advent season and the coming Light, darkness yet remains during the Christmas season in 2018. 

In the economic realm of our society, fluctuations in the stock market continue to wreak havoc on 401Ks and retirement incomes, yet many wonder why the most powerful nation in the history of the world has such difficulty in honoring the hard work of ordinary citizens who believed the government would never fail them. Closely related is this nation’s problem with health care. How is it possible that a nation chooses to spend billions of dollars on defense (54% of the Federal budget) but cannot guarantee affordable health care (6%) for its citizens?  The percent difference between the two is alarming! Add to these challenges: the illegal trafficking of drugs, the skyrocketing costs of so-called legal drugs, the lack of safety on our streets, and the racial and ethnic divides that are more acute than almost any time in our history. In spite of the birth of our Lord, the shades and shadows of evil are more prevalent and impenetrable than ever.

I make the case that darkness remains as impenetrable as ever because we, as the church of the living God, have not done our part. The instruction from our Savior is to let our lights shine. All too often, shining our light is just a talking point and not something that many take seriously. Yet, if we shine light on small areas of darkness, we can dramatically have impact and illuminate large ones. We can shine our light by bringing Jesus’ life-giving messages to all the corners, cracks and crevices of our lives. Shining the light in the educational arena would mean promoting fair wages for classroom instructors, aides and administrators, and providing updated textbooks so that committed teachers could do a better job. We can shine our light on voluntary services. Rather than throwing up our hands and yielding to the belief that things will never get better between police and Black and Brown people, we can establish relationships with our police and see law enforcement personnel and citizens as two sides of the same coin.  We can bring light to our world by simply smiling and being friendly with everyone we meet. The other day I encountered a salesperson who was not only helpful but exceptionally friendly. As a salesperson, I can only assume that her compensation was barely more than minimum wage. I surmised that she wasn’t pleasant because she was paid to be pleasant, but because she has something inside her that genuinely bubbles over revealing her marvelous light. The result for me was her light made my day brighter. “…If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be.”