December 14, Monday

Isaiah 60:1-3 (NRSV)

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Is it possible to actually feel a time in your childhood?  It isn’t a sight, sound or even a place, but a feeling.  I can feel myself reciting this verse 55 or maybe even 60 years ago.  It was either a memory verse for Sunday school or part of a step requirement for Girls Auxiliary. It was only the first half of the verse: “Arise, shine for thy light is come.” Isaiah 60:1

If only my memory could connect with exactly what I thought that verse meant. In some way it was connected with Jesus coming at Christmas. This was a passage of hope for the Israelites. Jerusalem was not what they thought they had been promised. They needed a message of hope.

Isn’t that exactly what CBF is trying to offer in the poorest parts of our country with the Together for Hope initiative? I wrote this reflection from one of those places Together for Hope desires to serve: Elaine, Arkansas. My first trip here was in 1998. Coming from Fayetteville to Elaine, I thought I had left the country. Just last night I heard a lady, in Elaine, in her thirties say, “I just can’t see any hope for this town.” Physically and economically, this town is worse off than seventeen years ago.

Although food and clothing may sometimes be needed, that is not the biggest need.
What this town needs is hope:

Hope that some of their houses will make it through the next storm.
Hope that someone will open a dollar or grocery store.

Hope that their children have not been “thrown out” with the school closing.        
Hope that children have something positive to do.

Hope that life has more meaning than just passing time.

At the Lee Street Community Center we offer the only place with any organized activities in an impoverished area of town. We are bringing hope with the Birdhouse Project to make Elaine into America’s Birdhouse Capital. And we have hope for a park with outdoor musical instruments!

Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, we bring hope by reflecting God’s love. May we all be good reflectors and share the hope God has for everyone.

Where are you reflecting the hope that God gives us?

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer,
As I walk under the same sun and moon that Jesus walked under, let me see other people the way He saw them.  And wherever I go, give me insight to know how to reflect your love for them. Amen.

By Pat Kienzle, CBFAR Coordinating Council member
Rolling Hills Baptist Church, Fayetteville


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