Memories of my father

As I write this, it is Father’s Day. Memories of my father come to me. He died 15 years ago at the age of 86. My dad was an alcoholic and he smoked most of his life and so I was surprised that he lived as long as he did.  

He spent his entire career with Greyhound Bus Company. For most of those years, he was a driver. For the other years, he was the Terminal Manager for the Nashville hub. I spent a lot of time at that hub with him as a kid. All the drivers knew who ”Jimbo” was. It was almost like I was an honorary employee.

I would ride along with him frequently on his run to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He would drive to Hopkinsville, where he would have a 5-hour layover, and then drive back. It was during those layovers that he taught me to play pool. There was a pool hall down the street from the bus station there and it was one of those that you had to pay by time rather than 25 cents a game. So my dad would challenge me into the game with the loser having to pay. He would make all his balls except the last one and just wait for me to get caught up. Then he would make his last ball. His version of torture. I had to pay. Lesson learned.

I also noticed how much the people on his run liked him. He very often carried the same people back and forth from Nashville and Hopkinsville. One of those was W. C. Link, who was attending Vanderbilt Divinity School. He would go on to be the founder of McKendree Manor—now known as McKendree Village. W. C. would never see me without saying something about those bus rides with my dad. 

He was also a hunter. That was something he shared with my brother more than me. I did some hunting, but I didn’t have a passion for it like they did. But he did teach me how to hunt and how to use firearms safely and respectfully. We did more fishing together than hunting and that was always a good time with just him and me.

Both my brother and I were athletes in school and he made time to come watch us play. One of my lasting memories of him was having him there at the Regional Jr. College tennis tournament. He knew nothing of tennis, but he spent the day there outside the courts in a lawn chair watching.

Looking back, the most precious thing was time. It has been rightly said that you spell love, “T-I-M-E”. My father wasn’t perfect. I’m guessing yours wasn’t either. But much of who we are we get from them. So today—and this week—be sure to offer a prayer for your father. If necessary in memory, but hopefully in the present. Try to give back some of that “time”. As a father, I am aware of how precious time with children is.

Peace
 
Jim
 

Living as Children of Light

As I drove into the church today, I heard word for the first time of yet another terrorist attack—this time in London, which has suffered three in the last two months. I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to the frustration of such news. These types of acts have now made their way onto our shores. People are living increasingly with a sense of fear. And make no mistake, living in fear is exactly what they want. When we live in fear, they win.

The Apostle Paul once wrote a letter to a struggling church in Ephesus. He wrote, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.”

If you recall, the entire Biblical story begins in darkness and the last of the four gospels ends with it. Genesis says that darkness was upon the face of the deep. There had never been anything other than darkness.

And at the end of the Gospel of John, the disciples go out fishing on the Sea of Tiberias. It was night. They had no luck. Their nets were empty. They spot someone standing on the shore.  In the mist and darkness they can’t really see who it is, but then—as they got closer—they could see it was Jesus.

The darkness in Genesis is broken by God who speaks with great majesty and creates the first thing ever created—“Let There Be Light”. And it was so. In John, the darkness is broken by the presence of Jesus.

Of course, there is still darkness around us. There are always forces of evil with whom we must contend. I am convinced that we will not defeat such evil from a position of fear. And the good news is we don’t have to. We are children of Light. We are commanded to live that way—to seek those things that are good and right and true.

Darkness wins when we forget we are Light.

Peace

Jim
 

Casual Sundays

Our worship committee met the other night to discuss the calendar coming up and the various worship services (and very special ones) that are coming. In the midst of our conversation, someone asked if we were going to be OK with people dressing more “casually” during the summer months. This conversation comes up at every church I’ve ever served. It can get a little tricky—sort of similar to whether or not it’s ok to clap in church or not.

For some, coming to church/worship will always be a “dress-up” event. I think they do because they see it as a sign of respect. I appreciate them for that. Worship deserves our utmost respect.

On the other hand, if respect is measured by the clothing we wear, then my taste in clothing suddenly becomes the criteria for whether I respect worship or not. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that, either.

For me, it mostly comes down to whether or not a “dress code” for Sunday morning becomes the primary reason that one either attends worship that day or not. Here are the possible scenarios:  summertime is for being outdoors with hiking and picnics and such. If the family is planning a picnic and don’t really have enough time to dress up, go home, get re-dressed, and then make it to a destination, I’m guessing they will use that as a reason NOT to come to worship that day. Or if we have golfers who have a tee time and want to make it out to the course right after church, if they feel they must go back home to change out, they will also likely stay away from church that day. (I’ve been around long enough to KNOW this is true for golfers).

So I think I tend to lean in the direction of personal choice for the summer months. Come dressed well if you choose. Or if you have multiple destinations that day and only so much time to do it, come casually. I’m trusting all of us to know what is “appropriate” for casual. One warning—I’m guessing most of you don’t want to see me in my bathing suit so I’m asking you not to let me see you in yours ☺

Therefore, I hereby decree (sounds like Game of Thrones, doesn’t it? Except no one has “anointed me the king of ANYTHING!) that beginning Sunday, May 28, (Memorial Day weekend) through Sunday, September 3 (Labor Day weekend) that we will authorize “CASUAL SUNDAYS”.

In all seriousness, I have had any number of people in my past ask “permission” to dress casually for the warm, summer months. So consider this article as my giving permission. Please don’t look for reasons or excuses not to attend worship for the summer. You can have your picnic, boating, golf, etc, AND attend to your spiritual needs as well.

PEACE

Jim

New Life

We celebrated the risen Christ on Sunday and have now entered the season of Easter. After weeks of walking through the dark shadow of Lent that led us to follow in Jesus’ painful, difficult steps toward his suffering and death, we can now walk in the light and joy of Jesus resurrection. I have to admit, though, there are times when I’m tempted to stay stuck in the shadow of suffering and death, forgetting the joy and hope of the resurrection. Sometimes I’m tempted to stay in Lent. 

When I look around me and see the real suffering of others in our world, it’s sometimes difficult for me to find the hope of new life. I recently read an article about the effects of hunger and poverty on children’s brain development that stirred within me a gut-wrenching sorrow. Because they are not receiving proper nutrition, their brain development is stunted. This causes a chain-effect of making it difficult for them to learn, thus making it difficult for them to find good jobs...and the cycle of poverty continues. When I first read about this, I only saw the shadow of suffering and death. With a hopeless and somewhat cynical cry, the question arose within me, “Where is the hope of new life here?”  
 
When have you been tempted to stay in the shadow of Lent? When a loved one is sick and the prognosis doesn’t look good, we might find ourselves overwhelmed by the dark news and unable to see any sign of hope. When we’re battling secret struggles that cast a huge shadow of fear, we might find ourselves stuck in our secret suffering. When a relationship breaks and we’re left to wade through the pain and uncertainty on our own, we might find ourselves paralyzed in sorrow. In our despair, the question might arise within us, “Where is the hope of new life here?”

The good news is that we do not have to stay stuck in the shadow of suffering and death. Lent is a journey...it is not the destination. Suffering and death do not have the final word. The joy of Easter is that Jesus really did rise from the dead, offering us the hope of new life. The question that we have asked in our despair continues to be a good question to ask during this Easter season, “Where is the hope of new life here?” To answer this question, we need to open our eyes, not only to the suffering in our lives and the world but to the signs that God is at work to bring new life out of death. Where is God at work to break the cycle of poverty? Where is God at work to offer comfort and support during illnesses? Where is God at work to offer deliverance from secret struggles? Where is God at work to bring about wholeness and healing from a broken relationship? 

The signs of new life are all around us. As you notice the green trees, bright flowers, and singing birds, pray that God will open your eyes to the signs of God’s work of hope in your own life and in our world. How can you be part of that new life this Easter season? 

Rev. Kelli Hamilton

The Suffering of Holy Week

Sometimes when I teach confirmation classes, the confirmands will ask probing questions. Questions about the faith and about the church—sometimes questions about me as a minister.

One confirmand a couple of years ago happened to see the cross I wear around my neck. She noticed that it didn’t look like most of the crosses she had ever seen. She was very curious about why my cross had Jesus on it. I explained to her that she was very observant and that the cross I was wearing was known as a “crucifix”—used mostly by Roman Catholics—while the cross she was looking at in our sanctuary at the time—and in most every Protestant Church—was empty. This allowed me to have an important “teachable moment” with those confirmands. For the Protestant Church, an empty cross is a symbol of resurrection. For the Roman Catholic Church, the crucifix represents the central mystery of the faith—it is somehow through the suffering of Jesus that we are saved.

I love what our empty cross represents and I hope you do, too. On Sunday we get to celebrate Easter—the great festival of Christianity. Our Roman Catholic friends will celebrate that day no less than we will. But I might like to suggest that as we begin Holy Week, it is imperative that we allow our Catholic friends to inform us.  

The week of Passion is difficult to enter. Starting with a parade filled with Palms that everyone knows is more of a “perp walk” for Jesus. The end is near and he knows it. Then through the events of the week—a betrayal by friends, a kangaroo court complete with a mock trial and then the torture and beatings. Finally, the ultimate insult—crucifixion, Rome’s form of capital punishment, inflicted on the one we call “The Prince of Peace”.  

It is tempting for us to want to bypass all that agony. But we must not because our salvation truly is connected to this suffering of Jesus. And what’s more—and perhaps even more disturbing for us—Jesus commands us to enter into this suffering WITH HIM.

I can’t know what that means for you and I’m still trying to figure out what it means for me, but what is unmistakable is that our Lord has asked all of us who call ourselves “followers” to do exactly that—follow Jesus along this road that leads through Jerusalem and on to the place called “Golgotha”, The Place of the Skull.

There will be two opportunities during Holy Week for you to follow: Maundy Thursday as we commemorate the Last Supper and Good Friday as we hold a “Tenebrae” service—a service of light and shadow that points toward the darkness of the crucifixion. These are both powerful services and I hope you can attend both—each beginning at 6:15 p.m.

I always find for myself that I am much more prepared for the Easter celebration when I have attended to the suffering of Holy Week. So on Easter Sunday, we will have a 6:30 a.m. Sunrise Service on the lawn (weather permitting), then our 8:30 and 10:30 services will both be in the sanctuary (and there is a fellowship brunch served between those two services.

I know you’ll not want to miss a thing.


Peace


Jim

The full extent of love

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I vividly remember a steaming hot July day when one of my coworkers washed my feet on the side of a cliff. It was the end of our summer serving on Mountain T.O.P. staff together. We had spent three months creating worship services, leading messy games, and helping work teams paint houses and build porches. Needless to say, our camp feet were really dirty, and that day was no exception.

His name was Ryan. He carried water in his backpack as we had to hike to our cliff-side celebration spot. It was our custom to share gifts with one another. Washing our feet was Ryan’s gift. I can still see him touching my feet sincerely, wiping them off carefully, all without saying a word. 

He was the kind of guy who never tired of serving others, always the first one to help and the last one to go to sleep. And it was Jesus who taught him how to serve others.

In John 13, the author depicts a scene that no other Gospel writer includes. He writes that Jesus got up from the last meal he would share with his friends, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He then poured water into a basin to wash his disciples’ feet. When he was done Jesus said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (13:13-14). 

When I think of servant leadership, Jesus (and Ryan) come to mind, for the writer tells us, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (13:1). Here, the full extent of Jesus’ love for his friends is seen in the act of washing their feet. Jesus reveals that discipleship means being willing to serve others; to engage in the messy, dirty, on-the-ground realities of human life. As such, Christian discipleship must always be oriented towards the other and carried out with Christ-like humility. Christ says, if we love one another, we will serve one another, and by this all people will know we belong to God (13:34). 

During our Maundy Thursday service, you will be given the opportunity to serve and be served by participating in a foot washing. How sacred to do the very same act Jesus did the night before he was crucified? 

If this sounds intimidating or uncomfortable, I encourage you to lean into the discomfort. We will make sure you have proper instructions during the service. We hope to see you next Thursday at 5:00 PM for dinner and 6:15 PM for worship.

Grace and peace,


Rev. Sam McGlothlin 

Breaking the Cycle of Violence

There has been a recent spike in threats against Jewish synagogues and community centers and desecration of Jewish graveyards. There has also been a spike in threats against Muslim Mosques around the country.

These threats are not just somewhere else—they are nearby. Our neighbors at the Gordon Community Center has been the recipient of multiple bomb threats. So you will know, I have reached out on behalf of our entire church to my friends, Rabbi Mark Schiftan at The Temple and Rabbis Phillip and Laurie Rice at Congregation Micah to ask what we might do to stand in solidarity with them against these kinds of threats. They were most appreciative of the gesture and there may still be a way for us to be in partnership with our friends.

Threats of violence like this against religious institutions are so profoundly cowardly. Particularly at the Community Center where so many children are present.

In one of our Sunday School classes this past Sunday, we discussed the Parable of The Good Samaritan. In that conversation, we included time to discuss ways to end the cycle of violence that sometimes grips neighborhoods, cities, or entire nations.

The enmity between Jews and Arabs has been well-documented over the years. Their issues are deep and complex and do not yield to simplistic solutions. But sooner or later, someone will have to break the cycle of violence in order for peace to be attained.

Recently, I learned of a mosque that had been burned down in Florida. The leader of that mosque noticed something odd about donations. Many of the donations that came to the mosque were not in round numbers like $25 or $50 or $100 but were multiples of the number 18—like $18, $36, $72, etc. The leader of the mosque was perplexed until he clicked on the names of the donors to see Avi, Cohen, Goldstein, etc.

Jews donate in multiples of 18 as a practice known as “Chai”—Chai is a wish for long life.

In Missouri, when vandals damaged a Jewish cemetery, Muslim neighbors raised $125,000 to help pay for repairs.

In Texas, when a mosque was burned down by vandals, the local Jewish synagogue allowed the displaced Muslim faith community to worship in their synagogue.

Recently Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, received a standing ovation when he declared at a national conference that if U.S. Muslims were forced to register with the government, he would register as a Muslim, too.

These and many other similar stories are unfolding all around us as people and groups are trying to break the cycle of violence and hatred.  

And if you are asking “What would Jesus do?”,  it would be this.

Peace

Jim

Talking Heads

Ray Waddle was a classmate of mine at the Divinity School back in 1978-81. Many of you will recognize Ray’s name because he was the Religion Editor for the Tennessean for many years. Ray now writes an occasional column for the paper. He is always insightful and I enjoy reading his stuff. 

Recently he wrote an article that featured an idea that has really stuck with me. In talking about our country’s current internal struggles, Ray says that we have become addicted to drama. I think he’s right. The endless news cycle and the acrimonious tone of so many of our leaders serves only to keep the drama stirred up. 

If you didn’t know any better, you’d wonder if maybe we have decided that “civil war” is somehow good for us. And “war language” is very much what we hear from our leaders on both sides of the aisle. It was George Orwell in his famous book, “1984”, who said that in the dystopian society he wrote about, war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. 

And so the drama goes on and on and on. 

I have heard countless people express their frustration over this very problem. But they seem incapable of turning away from it—much like watching a train wreck. Maybe we really are addicted to this drama? 

Here is a possible Lenten discipline for all of us—turn it off. There is nothing that says we have to read about or listen to or watch the drama play in a seemingly endless loop. Tired of the talking heads? Turn them off.

Peace

Jim

Cuban Partnership

In my years of ministry, some of the most meaningful times have been the mission events—especially the international mission efforts. I’ve been fortunate to be able to build and repair houses and schools, preach and teach in places like Grenada, Carriacou, Jamaica, Eleuthera and others. Going to places like these with a team from a church is always an important time of building unity and understanding. And in all of my years I have yet to hear one person say they wish they hadn’t done it. Mostly, they say the experience was life-changing.

We have an opportunity here at Belle Meade UMC for some of you to experience this kind of mission. In February of 2018, we will take a team of seven into Cuba. I am personally very excited because we have a unique opportunity to create a lasting partnership with Methodists in Cuba at the ground level.

Most of us know that Cuba has been—and still is—a communist country. But things are now changing rapidly and most believe that the 50 year old embargo on Cuba will be lifted soon. It would be thrilling to have a partnership already established there when it happens.

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Our dates will be Saturday, February 17th, through Friday, February 23. Each team member would be responsible to pay their own way. Over the course of the next year our team may find ways to allow the congregation to support us, but it should be clear that we are each responsible for our own way. We don’t yet have actual costs, but I am guessing it will be around $1200 per team member. I will be looking more closely at actual costs soon and keep you posted.

Let me also say clearly that we only have room for 7 members. That is due to the Cuban government still tightly controlling all visas. In time, this will also open up. For now it will be first come, first served.

I would really like to have a couple of team members who speak Spanish. That would be very helpful. Are you interested in being a part of this team? Please be in touch with me.

February of 2018 seems like a long way off, but it will roll around quicker than you think. How does a chance to share the love of Christ in Cuba sound to you??

Peace

Jim

A Little Child Shall Lead Us

I would not want anyone to feel bad or guilty about missing worship on Sunday, but I can safely tell you that if you missed the 10:30 service last Sunday, you missed an amazing day of worship led by our children and youth (along with able leadership from Gracie, Kelli, Alana, Nancy and several other adult volunteers). There were dozens of children and youth and they all played a role.

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All of them sang—beautifully. Some of them played bells, some led prayers and some led affirmations of faith—that they, themselves, had written concerning their own faith. Some served as greeters and others served as ushers.

Amani Devault-Smith and Tanner Anderson led the Children’s Time and taught our young ones a lesson about Moses.

Maggie Wilson and Addison Francis performed an amazing liturgical dance (with an assist from Regina Girten).

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James Hernandez, Emmy Carro, and Lily Wilson offered the sermon for the day. You should have heard them—they were well prepared and beautifully delivered. They were poignant and powerful testimonies to the work of God in their lives. Their messages touched me.

I found myself wishing we did this more than once a year. To be led in worship by our young ones is a vital moment for their faith development AND ours. Our young ones are capable, bright, articulate, talented, and they have something to say. We should give them many opportunities to use those gifts so they can teach us.

I know the parents in attendance were very proud. They should be. There was plenty to be proud of this past Sunday.

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More than anything, we really had CHURCH that day. The spirit in the room was electric and palpable. We should be so fortunate to have that same spirit every week. But for this one day, the Holy Spirit paid us a lovely visit through our young ones. To all of them—and to all those who helped them—thank you.

Peace

Jim
 

Raising the Next Generation of Disciples

I don’t like to admit that there are times I need to remind myself how lucky I am.  I shouldn’t have to remind myself of it—the circumstances of my life should serve as reminder enough.  I have an amazing wife and four beautiful daughters (and one fabulous granddaughter).  I live in a very good house and my bills are paid.  I have never gone hungry.  I am fortunate to have a great education that has afforded me many opportunities in my life.

I have been blessed to serve 14 churches in the Middle Tennessee area—8 of those on two “circuits” as a younger pastor.   I was honored to serve twenty years as a Chaplain in the Tennessee National Guard.  I now have the privilege of serving a wonderful church filled with terrific people and to serve alongside an amazing staff.

Even with all that, the news of too many days is filled with misery, horror and tragedy and I’m all too often susceptible to feeling like nothing is getting better.

Then appear the faces in my window—little faces.  My office has two windows that open up to two different play areas connected to our Children’s Center.  Both of these windows happen to be pretty much at the “ground level” from outside.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t find myself the object of a very intense stare from a three or four year old.  They press their little faces against my windows to see who it is in there.  They never bang on the window.  They are just curious—and they are beautiful and happy and full of joy, life and hope.

These little faces are occasions of grace for me.  I nearly always stop what I’m doing to look and smile at them.  We rarely “connect” in these exchanges—it’s all they can do to shade their eyes from the sun so they CAN look inside.  But their daily appearances remind me of why I do what I do—raising the next generation of disciples is the most important thing we do.  They may be young like my buddies outside my window or they may be older and have yet to find their way to the goodness of God, but that is our task.

I’m lucky to have such a great view.  You may not be so lucky, so I suggest you “get” lucky—at least every so often, stop by a playground somewhere—maybe on your lunch break—and watch the kids, listen to their joy, and remind yourself how lucky you are.

By the way, we all have another occasion for such wondrous grace this Sunday as our children and youth will lead worship for all of us.  They need our support and I hope you will make a special effort to be in church Sunday.

PEACE

Jim
 

Choose Your Words Wisely

In a recent retreat session, I learned some valuable lessons from the one and only Rev. Tom Laney. Some of you Belle Meade folks might know who I am talking about. I wonder if you know that I first met Tom at Vanderbilt Divinity School. I’ve heard he is the “conflict guy,” a trusted, go-to, calming presence in the midst of turmoil. Thus, it didn’t surprise me that he was called into this retreat to talk about conflict management.

There are several snippets from his teaching that have stuck with me. One was: “Do not fill lack of information in with negative information or negative intention.” In other words, give someone the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you don’t know everything. Perhaps there is a backstory. Perhaps people aren’t out to get you!

Another was to be cognizant of your verbal weapons. When you’re tired, stressed, hungry, or frustrated, what are your verbal darts? Are you condescending? passive aggressive? sarcastic? Once you have identified your weapon, how do you keep it from firing away?

As I listened to Rev. Jim Hughes preach the 8:30 service this past Sunday, I saw the connection between Tom’s advice and Jesus’ teaching. In Matthew 5:38-41, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” 

As Jim suggested, we are in the business of nonviolent resistance. Jesus did not return violence for violence. Rather in his bodily resurrection and teaching, Jesus displayed how the power for life overcomes the death-dealing forces of violence. And though we often think about nonviolent resistance in physical terms, our hateful speech and anger-infused social media posts may need to be evaluated.

Are you using your verbal weapons to yell your truth or are you thoughtfully and lovingly crafting challenging sentences in a way that leads to critical thinking and action?

Jesus goes on to say: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

When Jim read these words on Sunday, I wondered who I would call an enemy. Someone who doesn’t believe what I believe? Someone who I believe is misguided in their interpretation of who Jesus really was and thus uses that Jesus to condemn? Who do I have hateful feelings towards? Can I really learn to love them?

I hope the answer is yes. As Jim pointed out, a better way to understand “perfect” in this text is maturity. As we grow closer to Jesus, we become more mature, soundly responding in the way he would have responded. So I hope that as I grow with God, I will acquire an emotional maturity that helps me: hear someone out even when I disagree with them, keep my verbal weapons in check, and resist the desire for retaliation— in word or deed. For this is the way of Jesus, and it is the way I want to follow.

Rev. Sam McGlothlin 

Living in an Age of Miracles

One of our favorite games is “Ain’t It Awful”.  A lot of us love to play it.  You know how it goes—you gather around a table for coffee to discuss life or the news and in no time there is a litany of things that hit the table that signal the end of the world as we know it.  Crime, terrorism, politics or whatever.  There is something, apparently, that draws us to seeing and thinking the worst in things and people.  At the end of this game is the general consensus that life is getting worse every day.

Except maybe it really isn’t.  Nicholas Kristof wrote recently that by many important metrics, the year 2016 was the best year in human history.  For instance, he asks us to take the following quiz:  On any given day the number of people worldwide who live in extreme poverty A. Rises by 5,000 because of food shortages, corruption, etc. B. Stays about the same or C. drops by 250,000.  Polls show that 9 out of 10 people believe that extreme poverty gets worse every year.  But according to the World Health Organization, roughly a quarter of a million people rise out of extreme poverty every day.

Or consider this—more than 100 million children’s lives have been saved through vaccinations since 1990.  In 1980 somewhere close to 40% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty.  Today it is only 10%.

There will, of course, be continued poverty in the world.  But strides are being made and we don’t talk about that as much as we should.  While many seem to be traumatized by the events surrounding Washington D.C., things around the world are getting better.  

There are forces at work around the world that are larger than our bipartisan politics. The most important thing happening today will not be a tweet.  What’s more important today is that 18,000 children who would have surely died 20 years ago will survive.

Michael Elliott, who died last year after leading the One Campaign which battles worldwide poverty, used to say that we are living in an age of miracles.  Every life saved from disease and every life lifted from the worst kinds of poverty are testaments to this age of miracles.  I’m personally excited to see how 2017 will be even better than 2016.

 

PEACE

Jim