Saturday December 23, 2000

Read: Isaiah 58:6-12

He was just a small town kid trying to make it in a big, lonely world. Not much had gone right in his life. He never could establish a relationship with one parent--he just heard often about how bad he was. He even got a stick and a piece of coal for Christmas one year.

He did have one parent who loved him, but it was always a struggle to make it financially, plus his brother and sister needed attention just like he did. His grandparents tried, but they were struggling with their own serious health issues. Then his grandpa died.

Really, he'd been in trouble most of his life. So it was no big surprise when he ended up in a juvenile detention facility. But it was the people he'd wronged who convinced the judge to give him an alternative to (the equivalent of) juvenile prison. They simply spoke from their hearts about how individuals, society, and even the church had failed him in his young life.

It worked. In the alternative setting he did well. He learned respect for self and others. He turned his life around, and when he was released he became a responsible and contributing member of the community. Too bad somebody couldn't change his life before he was in trouble with the law--somebody like you, or me.

We don't all have to be Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela, or Mother Theresa to set the oppressed free. Jesus often tended to the needs of individuals. Think how much it might mean to give the kid next door an opportunity to succeed which he hasn't had yet in his life. Or what a difference it could make to offer real hope for the future to the girl who doesn't know how to dream anymore. Changing just one life can affect so many other lives. Who knows what kind of chain reaction might be set in motion if you change two or three? --JAL

Prayer: O God, who sent a helpless baby to change the world, help me make the world a better place by changing the lives I can. Make me a channel of love that I, with Christ, may bring peace on earth. Amen.

For your meditation:
How can you set others free? Whom can you free? What would motivate you to take the action necessary to free someone?

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