Last week was a difficult week in our country as we watched issues of racial tension, fear and violence play out in the news after the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then the devastating shootings in Dallas, which killed five officers and wounded many others. We grieve for black mothers and fathers who worry that their children are more likely to be pulled over, abused or shot without access to a fair trial because of the color of their skin or the neighborhood they were born in. We grieve for the courageous and kind police officers who signed up to serve and protect their communities, who go into work each day more and more afraid. We grieve for the communities of St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas, and all who have lost someone they love or seen their communities torn apart by violence and unrest. We grieve for all in our country who feel more vulnerable and less safe.
Yet, even in the midst of our grieving we do not accept that despair will have the final word. As followers of Jesus we must choose hope. We choose to work to make our world a better and safer place for our children. We choose to say thank you and offer prayer and support for our men and women in uniform. We choose to build relationships across cultural and racial lines. We choose to talk about complicated issues even when it is painful. We choose this because even though grieving and healing are hard, we believe the God we meet in Jesus walks with us and is partnering with us to build the the Kingdom of Love and Hope in our midst.
It seemed strange after a week of such horrific news, to jump into the joy and energy of Vacation Bible School on Sunday, but VBS has been like a balm for my weary soul. If you are needing hope, just come and see 90 kids having fun, laughing and singing about the love of God. In their theme song they sing: "Shine bright, be a ray of light! Shine into Somebody's life, Shine God's love all over!" The world needs more of the kind of love and joy those kids embody as they sing. When they sing, I can't help but think about the first chapter of the gospel of John promising that through Jesus, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." Even in the midst of grief, fear and injustice, the light shines, and the amazing kids of our community are ready to spread that light all over.
I hope we will all follow the example of our VBS kids and shine a little more light, love and joy this week. Hold someone you love a little closer. Have a conversation with a stranger. Listen--really listen-- to someone who has a differing point of view. Help a neighbor. Sing a happy song loudly and dance as silly as you can. Tell a cop thank you and pray for them. Try to build or deepen a relationship with someone from a different cultural or racial background. A friend of mine shared this quote: "Love is quieter than gunshots, but there's more of it." Let's join the song of our children and make love loud. Our world desperately needs to hear a song of hope.