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The invitation (12/31/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns
The most compelling messages are revealed by the way you live your life, not by the sermons you give.

I just heard yet another one of unending news reports calling attention to the ever-present war in Iraq. The news anchor addressed a harsh reality, that 2,228 US troops had been killed as of December 9, 2006.

It seems surreal, as though the whole affair is a television sequel that will end in a few weeks. Nearly four years into the warfare many citizens may be getting complacent, unless the deaths and injuries strike a personal chord. Can one grasp the magnitude of loss if it doesn't hit home?

I was thinking how to address the ongoing war and all the crime stories, drug catastrophes, and natural disasters of the day. My two cents worth seems so petty and repetitious.

Bemoaning these tragedies and atrocities is not solving anything"¦yet it all seems so overwhelming. What can individuals do, whether they reside in small towns, suburbs, cities, and on farms? How can one make a positive difference?

Negligence is not only what one has done but, also, what one has failed to do. Is excess baggage bogging us down? Failure to forgive others leaves us vulnerable to a destiny of darkness and unrest. Do we ponder over our choices and our behaviors to assure that we're setting a good example for others?

This past month many grinning and adoring church parishioners of every Christian denomination delighted in children's presentations of the Nativity, the Christmas story. How it warms the heart! Such innocence should never be violated. But it is.

From an astounding 93 million miles away the sun lights up an otherwise dark planet. If our vision and our hopes were limited to what we see with our eyes, if we haven't looked beyond this world to what governs it, we risk becoming insensitive and indifferent, or else we despair over all the conflict and injustice everywhere, trapped in our helplessness to do anything about it.

I may be aware of many needs and hardships, but do I make an effort to make my space in this world a better place? Realistically, I can't go out into the greater world to serve my country, to feed the hungry, to fight crime, or to preach from busy street corners.

There was a simple song we used to sing in our Moravian Sunday school. It goes, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel, no! I'm gonna let it shine."¯ We all have something of worth to give and to share.

If you're lighting your candle at both ends, you may be heading for an inevitable burnout. What you do for others is energizing! Have you ever noticed that some folks, who seem to have so little, unselfishly give the most and appear to be the happiest?

It would be so uplifting and life-altering if more television and radio broadcasts would feature heartwarming stories to inspire others. Though some remain anonymous, we've all known many cheerful givers, sunshine people, and persons of hope along the way.

We may give without loving but we cannot love without giving. Christ's guidance shines through a new year's dawning, welcoming all to seek"¦and to discover the light of Christ within yourself and others.

Janet Burns resides in Lewiston . She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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