On the walls of the staircase which goes from the back door of our house up to our kitchen there are pictures and posters and bumper stickers which Shodie and I have collected over the years. Everything from a Wall Drug bumper sticker we picked up years ago on a cross country trip with our sons to the poster Sister Pauline gave to me on one of my first work trips trips to Buchanan County, VA. Among that staircase collage is a bumper sticker, picked up somewhere along the way, which reads, “If you can’t change your mind are you sure you still have one?” So just to prove to you (or to myself!) that I do still have one I wanted to let you know I changed my mind.
Here is what I mean.
As we were wrapping up Confirmation this year and asking the five young men, who you will meet in a moment, not only to write their Statements of Faith, but to do so in a different way and with a slightly different focus than what Kathy and I have suggested in the past. I told them that for my reflection this morning I would do what I was asking them to do. But as I thought about this morning and what I would like to say, I changed my mind. Instead of writing my own Statement of Faith, I want to share with them and with you my thoughts about stepping up and swallowing hard and why that is important.
So, let’s begin with Jesus.
And, the passage Jack read just a moment ago.
“You are the light of the world.” Jack read and Jesus said.
And the truth is many scholars believe Jesus may have actually said these words to his disciples. And, now, you and me and the rest of us have a chance to hear those words again not just as Jack reading them or as my saying them, but do we dare imagine it could be Jesus saying those words to each one of us.
You, Jack Gorman. You are the light of the world.
You, Dylan Eichhorn. You are the light of the world.
You, David Di Minno. You are the light of the world.
You, Craig Moccia. You are the light of the world.
You, Jack Walsh. You are the light of the world.
And, you, Bedford Presbyterian. You are the light of the world.
That’s what Jesus said.
But also notice what he didn’t say.
He didn’t say sometimes.
He didn’t say when you feel like it.
He didn’t say when it is easy.
He didn’t say on Sunday morning when you are in church.
He didn’t say just with your friends or just with people you know or just with people who look like you or speak like you or think like you.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world”
Meaning, you are that light all the time.
And, that’s what I want to say to you this morning.
You who do your best to notice what God does and then do what you see God doing. You who hear the call to follow Jesus. To love both God and neighbor and to treat others as you would like to be treated and to lift up those who have fallen down and to pull into the circle of love those who have been cast aside. You are the light of the world.
You are to be kindness.
You are to be goodness.
You are to be forgiveness.
You are to acceptance.
You are to be peace.
You are to be strength.
You are to look up and to see more of the world than the small circle we sometimes draw around our lives. You are make the world…your world…our world…better today than it was yesterday.
Sometimes all that is easy.
Sometimes it is easy to be kind and good and to treat others with respect and understanding. Sometimes it is easy to forgive. But, to be honest with you, some of the time it is not so easy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it is all I can do to make it through the day doing what I am supposed to do. Sometimes I feel too insecure or too small or too tired to care about much of anything. Sometimes I am too angry or too hurt or too embarrassed to want to or know how to be kind or strong or forgiving.
I get that.
But, if you and I take this God stuff seriously…
And, take following Jesus seriously…
Then all the time,
Even when I don’t feel like it or want to, the words of Jesus still hang in the air. You are the light of the world.
And the truth is maybe when it is the hardest is when it matters the most.
That moment when your friends need it the most.
That time when the person who is lonely needs it the most.
The day when your school needs it the most.
The conversation when your family needs it the most.
The situation when your church needs it the most.
Sometimes even when you need it the most.
So, my final Confirmation words to all of you…
Besides my Thank you for being a part of our conversations this year, is this:
Even when it is difficult.
Maybe even especially when it is difficult.
Be who you are called to be.
Each of you…
Are the light of the world.
And, God only knows…
We need your light.