Practicing our faith through the times of the Coronavirus

Each day our Pastor will post a message to keep us connected while the Church is closed.

Day 84, June 5, 2020
“Sparkle and Shine”

Have you ever considered that your life might shine? The Apostle Paul discovered that truth in a beautiful and personal way as he came to love the church at Philippi. From the warm and tender greeting where he assures the Philippians that he “has them in his heart” to the gratitude he expresses for their undying concern for him when not even one other church “shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except” his beloved friends, those saints at Philippi had been a beacon of hope and encouragement to Paul. Not one to leave things to doubt, Paul affirms the impact of their faithful witness for Christ with soaring praise, “You shine like stars in the universe…” (Philippians 2:15)

Make no mistake, the Philippians do not shine with a light that is their own. The light that shines in their lives is the light of Christ. Paul does not speak of the impact the shining Philippians have made until he has lifted up Jesus Christ. It is only after Paul has called his faithful brothers and sisters to have the same attitude as Christ Jesus…it is only after the humility of Christ, “who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”…it is only after the humility of Christ has been lifted up…It is only after the self-giving of Christ, “Who emptied himself by becoming a servant, who emptied himself by giving his life on the cross”, it is only after the self-giving of Christ has been laid out as the ultimate sacrifice…it is only after Jesus has been praised as the name that is above all names, it is only after the Philippians have adopted the same attitude as Christ Jesus that Paul is able to tell the beloved saints in Philippi that their lives shine like stars in the universe.

Today’s devotional is the last in this series. I close these daily reflections in the hopes that you and I will enter back into and engage with our world motivated by a commitment and a desire to shine like stars in the universe. The chaos and confusion left behind by the Coronavirus is immense. The loss has been physical, financial, spiritual, mental, and social. Even as the world focused on a pandemic, the glaring realities of racial injustice and inequality have been brought to light once again.

Into this world, at this time, in this place, with these challenges, a letter written to a fledgling church nearly 2,000 years ago somehow manages to speak to us today like it is breaking news. Have the same attitude as Christ. With that attitude shine like stars in the universe.

At a time in my life when I was struggling to discover meaning and purpose, at a time filled with personal doubts, at a time when there was much confusion in the societal events of the day, at a time when I was hoping and praying that my life might make some positive impact on this crazy world in which we live, I stumbled on a book at a rummage sale that led me to explore an old knight’s tale and finally found me plopped down on a couch as I watched a movie based on the Lerner and Loewe’s musical “Camelot.”

Right at the end of the movie, King Arthur is preparing to go to his final battle. His beloved dream of Camelot has crumbled. The Round Table lies broken and shattered by betrayal and deceit. His kingdom is in tatters. The future seems bleak. Strapping on his sword for what he knows will be the last time, the king hears a rustling sound near his tent.

Arthur calls out,

“Who goes there?”

With hesitation a young boy steps from the shadows.

“Who are you?” the king demands

In a small and timid voice the boy says, “Tom, my Lord.”

“And where do you come from?”

“From Warwick, my Lord.”

Eyeing him warily the king probes, “Why are you here?”

Tom straightens up a bit and says, “I have come to fight for the king.”

Not only does that answer surprise the king, you can see him melt just a little.

“Fight for the king?”

“Yes, my Lord, I want to be a Knight of the Round Table.”

Arthur asks, “And how did you decide on this extinct profession?”

What Tom says next floors the king. “From the stories people tell.”

“From the stories people tell?”

“Yes, my Lord, from the stories people tell. Might for right, right for right, and a Round Table for all.”

The cloud that hung so darkly over the king seems to disappear, just for a moment, just for one brief shining moment. Arthur calls the boy over to his side. Even though Arthur knows the battle he enters that day will end in defeat, he now sees that the story might live on. Speaking gently but urgently to the boy, King Arthur says to young Tom of Warwick,

“Listen to me, Tom, and do exactly what I, the king command you.”

Expecting to be sent to the front lines, Tom stands at attention, awaiting his orders. But King Arthur says, “I want you to go home, to grow up, and to grow old.” A look of disappointment fills Tom’s face as the king says these words. Tom is ready for battle. Instead, the king says he wants Tom to go home and tell everyone that once there was a spot. Slowly Tom begins to understand how important it is to tell the story. His disappointment in not going to battle is transformed and he prepares to run and tell the story.

Before he does, the king has him kneel down. King Arthur places his trusted sword on the shoulder of the young boy and says, “I knight you Sir Tom of Warwick.” When Sir Tom of Warwick rises the king sends him off to fulfill his important task. The boy runs, literally carrying the hopes and the dreams of Camelot and the king with him. Arthur watches him go with the sweetest look of wonder and amazement. He shouts after him, “Run, my boy, run.”

Right about then Arthur’s oldest and dearest friend, King Pellinore, stumbles onto the scene. Pelly sees the boy running. Pelly hears Arthur shouting. Confused by this strange series of events, Pelly blurts out, “Arthur, who was that boy?”

King Arthur, his face beaming with hope, shouts triumphantly, “One of what we all are Pelly, less than a drop in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea. But it seems, Pelly, some of the drops sparkle. Some of the drops do sparkle.” The king shouts one final time, “Run, my boy. Run.”

Years ago, a follower of Jesus named Paul wrote to some dear friends, some ordinary, everyday Christians living in a Roman city named Philippi. He told them what a difference they had made in his life. He told them how he loved and longed for them. And he told them that with Christ in their lives they shined. He told them their lives sparkled. I believe that was true in Philippi. But I don’t believe that was only true in Philippi. I believe that the light of Christ is meant to shine in our lives. I believe our lives are meant to sparkle. And I believe that is exactly what Christ does in each of our lives. Children of God, may we live in such a way that the light and the love of Jesus Christ shines in our lives. May we live in such a way that our lives sparkle.

With the love of Christ,