After the welcome and opening prayers, our minister always has a "children's time" as part of the service. He invites all of the children down to the front of the church and shares a short story or lesson that is at a level they can understand. He often uses a prop to grab their attention and hold their interest. Their responses and commentary throughout are often funny, and always adorable.
Yesterday he brought out a strand of Christmas lights. He laid it out along the floor and walked over to the outlet to plug it in. The children appropriately "ooh'ed" and "aah'ed", as I am sure he had hoped they would. One light in the strand did not illuminate.
"What do you notice about this strand of lights?" he asked.
"That one's broken!" several pointed and exclaimed in unison.
That one is broken.
"Yes. It is broken. But look. Look at the other ones. See how bright they are? When we put them on a Christmas tree, even though one of them is broken, the rest of them work together and they make the tree so beautiful."
The rest of them work together to make the tree beautiful.
He didn't go on to discuss last week's tragedy. I am sure that most of the children in the audience were oblivious to its occurrence. But every adult sitting in the pews knew exactly what the broken light was to which he was referring. I kind of wonder if he told this story more for us.
I am choosing to share this with you because I so desperately needed to hear it. Maybe you do, too. Because I, perhaps as you did, spent the majority of the weekend contemplating humankind. Wondering if we are all living a hopeless existence. I thought about it. And I cried about it. And I prayed about it. And then I remembered there IS good in the world. Sometimes the evil is SO evil that it blinds us. It seems impossible to see the good. But we can't let it be.
WE CAN'T LET IT BE.
Because then evil wins.
I DON'T WANT EVIL TO WIN.
We will remember that day. We will remember where we were when we heard the news, and we will remember the shock, disbelief, horror, and sorrow. We will mourn for those lost and the loved ones that lost them. Everyone in America has a new hole in their heart, most of us complete strangers to the victims and their families.
Although our lives are forever changed, we have a choice. We can choose to blame and hate and give up on one another. Or we can choose to fix and love and help those in need. Every day is an opportunity to do good. Every day is an opportunity to make the world a more beautiful place. Some days it will be hard, and we will have to talk ourselves into seeing the good among immeasurable degrees of bad. But, every day we can do our best to defeat evil. We at least have to try.
The world is our Christmas tree. Let your light shine.
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