DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: Be a sign of hope and a song of life

Life is full of messes that constantly need cleaning up. Lean into the sunshine of God's love.

Rev. Roger Grafenstein
Contributed / Roger Grafenstein
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Recent winds had some firing up chainsaws and cleaning up debris. My wife and I were fortunate to only contend with insistent oak leaves whisking into the garage every time the door opened. A day after my wife swept out the garage, I was out sweeping it again.

Ash Wednesday words came to mind: “From dust you were created, to dust you shall return.” Truth is, much of life is spent on repeated tasks – many contending with dust and debris. Fending off debris and keeping up with “spring cleaning” may feel discouraging at times.

Historically, each generation contends with some of the same messy issues that generations past thought they solved. While raising our children, I sometimes remembered facing similar challenges to theirs, and I remembered my parents telling of facing similar challenges. Now I note my grandkids face similar messiness – learning to share, putting away toys, and sometimes struggling with bedtimes.

Nationally, we barely begin cleaning up after one tragic mass shooting, before another occurs. The loss, grief. and attempts to pick up the pieces begin all over again in another community.

While sweeping dried leaves out of the garage, I noticed something else. Warm sunshine of the early evening seemed to melt into me when I neared the door. Birdsongs, especially the Baltimore and orchard orioles, melted in my soul.


Jesus often said, “The kingdom of God is at hand (near, in our midst).” Yes, we can grumble about life’s leaves, messiness and repeat chores. We can also opt to lean toward sunshine, delight in songs of life and attend to signs of God’s goodness in our midst.

Matthew says Jesus’ ministry was to fulfill what was said in the prophet Isaiah, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”

Matthew adds, “From that moment on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Repent means turn from to turn toward. Jesus invites us to turn toward the light and life-giving beauty, even while sweeping leaves and cleaning up debris.

We were created from dust and to dust we shall return – except those Ash Wednesday words end with an empty tomb, all tidied up in a beautiful Easter-garden.

We are invited to turn toward the things that give life – to turn toward the things that whisper, “The kingdom of God is near.” By the grace of God in Christ, a part of us is meant for more than dust.

Where have you seen or felt goodness? However recent or long ago it was, keep hold of it. Commit to keep your eyes and ears open for signs of God’s love and beauty, especially when life is messiest. Finally, ask God to make you a sign of hope and a song of life for another.

Rev. Roger Grafenstein serves as pastor of Riverside United Methodist Church.
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