Five minutes of the daily news is enough to make anyone a bit cynical and jaded. Newtown, CT. Webster, NY. Pakistan. Fiscal cliffs. Plunging markets. Unemployment.
“Where?” we ask. “Where is the good news?”
I had the opportunity to hear a sermon today about “Passing the Torch.” It was a very well-delivered and timely message – in short, it’s up to us to seize our opportunity to invest in others and shine God’s light into the world around us. Today and every day. It’s not too late.
By now, many have heard of the “26 Acts” groundswell of kindness initiated by journalist Ann Curry shortly after the Newtown tragedy. Yet another demonstration of the power of social media, “26 Acts” became an almost instant movement across America. And, while the significance of the kindness and generosity shown by various people in the context of their own “26 Acts” should not be overlooked, one may ask – why stop at 26?
As we anticipate the start of 2013, we have an opportunity to choose to make it a truly “new” year – or, just another year.
I’m not talking about resolutions. I was happy to hear the pastor say today that we shouldn’t even contemplate resolutions – I agree with him. Typically, they don’t work. I read somewhere that 97% of New Year resolutions fail within 30 days. Personally, I don’t think that the resolutions fail, rather, the will of the one resolved wavers in its own human imperfection.
So, in the midst of the “bad news” and cynicism, I submit that the good news is the Good News. And it’s up to us to do the reporting. Spread the Word.
I’m thinking of all of the opportunities that surround us in the course of our daily travels and the conduct of our personal business within our own myopic sphere of existence. If we simply look around and pay attention, the chances to incorporate our own “Acts” are right there in front of us. With open eyes and the will to invest ourselves a bit, we can be the news.
I’m thinking of the homeless person standing on the corner in Cool Springs selling copies of The Contributor to passing motorists – in the midst of a well-healed suburb and within the line of sight of America’s highest performing Lowe’s and fifth-highest performing Starbucks. How hard is it to put down the $4 latte at the stoplight, roll down the window, and make simple investments of $1 and a warm smile in the journey of a fellow brother or sister in Christ who stands there before us clearly in a moment of need? Share the light.
I’m thinking of dear friends who have lost loved ones – in some cases, far too early. The funerals are over and the gatherings of family and friends have disbanded, yet those left behind are in their darkest days of mourning. A phone call, a text message, an email, or perhaps a handwritten note can make a world of difference for them for days – yet, they take only mere seconds to minutes of our own investment to generate. Shine the light.
I’m thinking of the children of third world countries such as young Maria, our Compassion child in Ecuador. While we relax in the security and comfort of our homes and enjoy the abundance of blessings on our tables, these children want for the basic necessities of life. Modest monthly contributions can make the difference for these children by ensuring that they have food, clothing, and the support necessary to provide them with an education and access to a journey of Christian learning and discovery. Taking it one step further, a simple note once a month gives them affirmation that the world can be a kind place and that there is love. Shine the light.
I’m thinking of the strangers we all pass in our daily travels. Do we make eye contact? If so, do we smile? I’m reminded of our friend Lindsey and her fifth lesson – that smile may be the only happiness they encounter in the course of their day. Shine the light.
I’m thinking of those who stay warm tonight by a fire built with wood split, stacked, and provided by the High Octane Christian Men in Midlothian, Virginia. And I’m thinking of those who remain cold. Shine the light.
I’m thinking of the homeless children in the public school system who come each day for an education, two free meals, and a brief respite from the ugliness of the street. And I’m reminded of good people like Larry and Nancy who spend each day making it count as they do their part to bring meals, shelter, smiles, and hugs to the forgotten many. Shine the light.
And so, the opportunities to Act are clearly so endless and generally quite convenient. It’s up to us to find and highlight the Good News everywhere.
1 John 3:17 – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
Romans 15:1 – We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
One of my frustrations is that we are generally a fickle people who are easily distracted by the “now.” It’s no wonder, given that we are immersed in a culture of “now” – iPhones, email, text messages, and the like. And so, when the next “ big story” emerges, will we remember to shine the light?
Friends, I submit to you that there is truly only one “big story” and it is one of sacrifice and unconditional love. Indeed, the Good News.
And so, I question whether we need to resolve to anything other than developing a more pronounced habit of sharing kindness as God wants and expects us to do. And while the symbolism of “26 Acts” for the victims of Newtown is stirring and significant, I further submit that the real opportunity is somewhere around 5 Billion. Yes, 5 Billion – the roughly 71% of the world that doesn’t know the Good News.
Ok, so maybe it isn’t realistic to expect that we can cover all 5 Billion individually. Perhaps.
But, I suspect we can do better than just 26 each. Whatever the number for you – whether 12, 24, 52, or 365 Acts in 2013 – I suspect that whatever you resolve to do will be deeply appreciated by those who are embodied in the warmth of His light as a result of your resolve to Act. Likewise, He will be pleased.
Finally, I choose to believe that we worry more about the definite imperfection of our resolve in 2013 than He does. It’s sure to happen – try as we may, we are humans – imperfect beings – and we will surely hit a bump or two along our journey, as we always do. It’s okay. It’s only when we let those bumps completely de-rail our resolve and interrupt our journey to help others that all is lost. So, when we stumble, may we regain our stride. The goal is not to complete the resolution for our own victory or benefit, rather, it is to enhance our habits so that our victory and benefit is found in bringing the Good News to those we are fortunate to encounter.
I hope the year ahead is filled with blessings and opportunities for us all.
Shine the light. Keep it lit.