Dear First Pres,

   It was a striking juxtaposition. On Tuesday morning I was sitting in the Staff Leadership Team meeting, celebrating a fantastic Easter morning, when Pastor Lana received a text message about a shooting in Downtown Fresno. We didn’t know any details at that moment but we immediately secured the campus and prayed. Within minutes, details were flying in about the horrible scene that occurred just a handful of blocks from our campus (and in the neighborhood of some of our members). Once we learned that the suspect was apprehended, we opened up the office and began operating as usual … kind of. We’re a people still beaming from the celebration of our Lord’s bodily resurrection from the dead, and yet, keenly aware of our need for the Savior’s powerful light to shine in the darkness of our world.

   How does Christ shine in the midst of evil like this? He shines through His people. Jesus said, “You are the Light of the world … Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Phil. 2:14-16). Christ shines in the world through us.

   I experienced Him shining in the darkness first hand today. At noon, several pastors and followers of Jesus from our city gathered at Catholic Charities for a prayer walk. We walked (from end to beginning) the same route that Kori Ali Muhammad took on Tuesday morning. While we walked we prayed – stopping at each place a life was senselessly taken. We prayed God’s peace and wholeness over the neighborhood. It was a wonderful example of the unity of Christ’s Body in Fresno/Clovis. Christ was shining through His people.

   So, I exhort you to shine today. Do that by drawing near to Jesus and abiding with Him. Do that by loving well today those whom God brings along your path. Do that by praying continually for our city – that God’s Kingdom will come and that His will is done in our city as it is heaven. Do that by sharing with others the hope you have in Christ. No matter how little that light of yours seems, let it shine.

Blessings, Jeremy

P.S. This coming Sunday we will welcome 12 youth into membership as part of this year’s Confirmation class. I hope you’ll be here to participate in this important for these young people and our church. It will be a very shiny moment.