You are the light of the world

Now is the time to shine.

I cannot remember a time in my life when what we believe, and how we act on those beliefs, has ever been more important in the world. Things look scary out there, people disagree, and changes are happening that feel disorienting and frightening.

It is true that so many of us feel called to stand up against behavior and policies we know are wrong. Thank God for that.

But it is also true that how we express our views, even in protest, matters too. If we believe that love is the strongest force there is, if we believe in forgiveness and and grace and mercy, then now is the time to trust in this. To see the face of God in our neighbor everywhere we go.

The thing that gives me the most hope these days is seeing examples of this everywhere. It seems to me that regular people are going out of their way to be more gentle, more kind with each other as things seem more turbulent politically. So many of my church friends - lay and ordained - are spending more time in prayer, more time with doors open and cups of coffee for welcome and a chance for conversation. In families and among friends, and especially on social media, in the midst of lots of inflammatory things, I have seen so much real dialogue, and actual respect, even for differing views.

It seems to me that in hard times, it is easy to feel helpless. 'What can I do to change things?' is a question we often ask. Standing up for what is right is extremely important. And how we do that - and what we believe about it - is just as important. If we believe that God is good and in charge, then we have the space to see each other with love, even if we disagree.

I was heartened by this story - of people with extremely different views, who nonetheless came together as neighbors - and I know it is just one of many.

'You are the light of the world,' Jesus says in the Gospel that many of us will read this Sunday. In the darkest of times, it matters that we shine.