By Pastor Bob Wallace, retired United Methodist Pastor
Last month, we celebrated the greatest Gift of all time, the Gift of Jesus, God’s Son, the Savior of the World. As we journey into this new year of 2023, are we letting that greatest of all lights shine through us to God’s children around us?
We are in a season of darkness, the season of winter, that often pulls us down. God asks us to move through this season and every season empowered by the Light and Hope of His Son, Jesus. Are we choosing to do that? Are we letting our light shine in a way that points others to the Light and Hope for all the world, to Jesus Christ?
Looking upon our society, we see so much stress, anxiety, name-calling, division, and hurt. This is not unlike the society into which Jesus was born. What Jesus did and does is to point us all to the Light and Hope of God that is present, no matter what difficulties or heartaches we or the world might be facing.
In the midst of war, famine, poverty, sickness, hatred, and pain, God asks us, implores us, to point to and live our lives reflecting the hope, salvation, and love of Jesus. What greater good could we do for our hurting world in this new year of 2023 than to choose to love others, even our enemies and even those who are different from us, in the name of Jesus Christ?
A new family moved into a neighborhood that was very much the same as it had been for years. That family spoke Spanish as the first language. One of the children in the neighborhood heard others calling this new family names. The boy asked his mom why they were doing that. “Well, they are different,” she simply said. The boy thought about that for a moment and then said, “Mom, God tells us to love all people. Doesn’t that include our new neighbors and isn’t that what we should be doing?”
That very day, the mother walked with her son to the new neighbors, introduced themselves, welcomed them to their neighborhood, and gave them some homemade cookies. The new neighbors were very excited and grateful. The mother and son then invited them for an evening of food and games, to which the mother and son also invited many of the other neighbors. By the end of that evening, new friends had been made as the new family felt welcomed. Recipes were also exchanged and future dates were set to get together. The new family was invited to the mom and boy’s church and gladly accepted the invitation. God’s love was shining through, and the neighborhood was being enriched.
In this new year of our Lord 2023, may we commit ourselves to follow in the “Footsteps of Jesus” as we choose to love others as Jesus chooses to love us all. May this be a year in which we who follow Jesus allow the light and love of Jesus to shine through us to others to the glory of God.