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The Light of the World

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  -John 8:12

There is no denying we are living in some dark days right now. On Ash Wednesday, there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and no reported deaths. Today, just 4 weeks later, there are over 46,500 cases in the U.S., with 600 deaths. Across the world, more than 17,100 people have been killed by the virus. We are being instructed to “shelter in place” just to give our medical personnel and facilities a fighting chance to deal with the ever-growing demand for services. Many persons are experiencing a loss of income and many businesses a loss of revenue. Travel is at a standstill. More and more people are isolated every day. Yes, these are dark days indeed.

John reports that we can find light for our lives in Jesus Christ. The Message translation says it this way: Jesus once again addressed them, “I am the world’s light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” Just like we stumble around in the darkness when we don’t turn on the light, so we lose our way in daily life when everything grows dark in the world. Jesus is the one who brings us light in the darkness. We do not have to lose our way, for we find our way in Jesus.

I don’t mean to sound simplistic or appear to be wearing rose-colored glasses, but our claim and our faith as Christians is that in Jesus, we find light for our lives. This light helps us stay positive even in the darkest days. This light gives us hope in the future. This light helps to dispel worries and despair. Our trust is in the one who overcame death and is the light of the world.

And we can use this affirmation in these dark days to help others see the way forward. We can share our faith with others by reaching out through phone and text and email, offering a positive word of encouragement. We may be physically distancing but we can be virtually connecting, sharing the light of Jesus with others. I’m remind of a story of Alexander Papaderos, a teacher on the island of Crete. He recounts how someone once asked him, “What is the meaning of life?” to which he responded, “Do you really want to know? I will tell you.”

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. "When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine -- in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light. But light is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world -- into the black places in the hearts of men -- and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."

May we all shine the light of the world into the dark places we encounter, not only in these troubling times, but in all the days of our lives.

-Bob Winstead 

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Are you overflowing with hope?

“May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace so you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Are you overflowing with hope? In this scripture, Paul makes this request for the Christians in Rome to the God of hope. Paul prays that as we believe and trust in him, God would fill us with great joy and peace. Faith and hope go hand-in-hand. If we can trust and believe in Christ, we can await a glorious future.

What sustains us when we are in the midst of uncertainty and troubling times? What propels us onward to accomplish God’s great purposes? It is hope. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In response to this frightening news, I found I was filled with an overwhelming sense of hope and peace. I trusted God and my medical team and truly did not worry. Remarkably, I was not plagued with fear. I was filled with hope.

One of the great enemies we face is despair- a lack of hope. We must guard our hearts against this empty feeling. During times of confusion and strife such as these, we must be a people who abound in hope. Let us always remember to thank God for the gift of hope no matter what trials we face. Seeking to have God fill us with joy and peace is what we yearn for every day. It should be the ongoing desire of our hearts to know an overflowing hope in our lives. God, I pray, that each and every day we may be overflowing with hope in you.

-Cindy McKoy

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