It's amazing what makes the news. Dancing cats, singing birds, floating pieces of ice circling the waters. Something that caught my attention were two reports about gun violence in Chicago.
1 - Back in March 2017, Chicago went almost a full week without a fatal shooting. This was the first such week in 5 years.
2 - This past Monday, January 14, Chicago went a full day without reports of people shooting other people. This was the first such day in 2019.
When it comes to our community, there is much to pray for. As we start the new year, let's keep our local neighborhoods and larger city in prayer. Let's pray for healing from the violence that has made Chicago synonymous with a domestic war-zone. Let's pray for our neighbors, who are living in fear, hoping they're not the next victim of a random drive-by shooting. Let's pray for ourselves - that God would use our congregation to offer compassion, peace, and hope.
I know there are times when our efforts feel pointless. However, every time we offer compassion in the form of food drives, coat drives, grants to service agencies, volunteer hours at local food pantries and soup kitchens - whenever we welcome and offer kindness to visitors and guests, we are shining light in the midst of darkness. In small ways, we are all doing our part to make an impact for Christ in our world.
I'll close with a story about a young girl, who saw thousands of starfish washed up onto the beach. Knowing they would die if they were left on the sand, she picked them up - one by one - and threw them into the receding waters. An older man watched her and commented that her efforts were a waste of time. There were too many starfish along the beach. "You can't do anything about all this," he said.
The girl responded by picking up a starfish and throwing it into the ocean. "Well, I made a difference for that one."
We cannot do everything, but we can all do something.
Each of us are uniquely called and gifted by God to bless others. So, let's commit ourselves to sharing God's love in our prayers, gifts, and service.