Recently, I was inspired with hope by what I saw and experienced. I was the guest pastor at the St. Peter’s Church (Iglesia de San Pedro) in Samana, Dominican Republic, the historical church home for the descendants of enslaved and free African-Americans who left the United States on or after 1824. My sermon, based on the Gospel of Matthew chapter 5 verses 14-16 focused on this theme, “You are the light of the world!” (“Eres La Luz Del Mundo!”), a powerful message.
When I arrived early at the church before worship something caught my attention. It was before people arrived and drenched by the torrential rain. I paused at the entrance of the church. My eyes were immediately drawn to a woman dressed in white and situated on her knees, praying, as if she was begging. I saw her forehead firmly pressed against one of the steps leading to the altar. She laid before the cross as a beacon of light illuminating rays of hope, mercy, justice, compassion and more. I imagined one beam of light piercing through doors. Doors that separate children from their parents. Closed doors that separate us from discovering truth and bearing witness. Tsunamis, devastation, and other challenges. I imagined she carried a heavy load, a burdensome bushel filled with painful memories. She could not bear to stand with such a weight of injustices, a culmination of pain and insurmountable suffering. The light within her shined through her and called me and others to pause as we entered the sanctuary. She lifted her head and her knees. Her face shined like a newly minted coin. Light shined in her face and faces throughout the church beamed with expectations. The Glory of God shined affirming the presence of the Holy One, Source of Light.
Let us Pray Merciful God, Thank you that we can bring our pain, sorrow, doubts, fears, frustrations, disgrace, joys and triumphs to you. We leave our concerns on your thrown of grace. We look to you Almighty and Powerful God to empower us with wisdom and might to overcome the storms in our lives. We pray knowing that your blessed assurance gives us hope and renews our strength. Your loving kindness equips us to be your hands, heart and feet throughout this world. Shine your Light on us and in us so we may be a light in the spiritually dark places in our world. Bless us with your Light as we do the challenging work you have called us to do. We pray on bended knees, with outstretched hands, standing, sitting or simply in the stillness of our being. Loving God, hear our prayers. In our Savior’s Name. Amen.