From Darkness to Light

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, our church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, was vandalized with symbols of hate and evil. A few things struck me Tuesday morning after the incident. First, I thought of those who committed the crime. I reflected on what circumstances would have to transpire for someone to deface a sacred space. It occurred to me that living with this kind of hate certainly could not bring one to a state of peace and ultimate joy. Second, as the calls and e-mails flooded in, I was overwhelmed with the goodwill from individuals within the community of Juneau. Clearly, this is a city where its citizens genuinely reach out and sincerely care for one another. Perhaps this is the gift of living in a small community, but I have lived in other small communities and have not experienced this kind of unique concern. Third, I realized how fortunate I am because it is my turn to write for Living and Growing, and due to kismet I have the opportunity to reflect publicly on my thoughts regarding this event.

For Christians, this is a season where we lift up one of our more central stories about how God is revealed in our ordinary lives. We remember and remind one another that, in recognizing ‘God is with us,’ there is only one way to respond – with pure joy. There are infinite opportunities for us to witness the Divine all around us, and these opportunities occur not just in the month of December, but throughout the year.

As I try especially hard to practice what I preach this season, I strive to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to how ‘God is with us.’ In my view, vandalism of this sort reflects not only hate in its symbols, but hurting souls lost in the darkness. The message of my tradition teaches it is out of the darkness that light will come and that it is light that will overcome all that is dark. As the days in Juneau grow shorter and shorter, darkness becomes more evident than ever. I have read research that connects the unusually dark extremes of the winter months to winter depression and high rates of alcoholism among Alaskans. With this in mind, it is important for us to recognize the opportunity we have to bring a light of hope to any person engulfed in depression and despair.

The Christian tradition celebrates this Light breaking into the world on December 25th. I would add that we have opportunities to bring hope, peace, love and joy to others any time of the year. It is true that out of this crime came blessings beyond my imagination. As stated earlier, I have been inundated by individuals genuinely reaching out to the Aldersgate community. Out of a crummy circumstance, I have experienced the Light of God breaking though into my very ordinary life through the sincere efforts of those who simply follow “love thy neighbor.” I think it is important for us to include these vandals as our neighbors as well. We can ask ourselves how we might reach out to these persons and show them the same kind of compassion the community has shared with Aldersgate.

Our response to this event is to offer an invitation. This message goes out to not only those responsible for the vandalism but to any person feeling the oppressive darkness bearing down at this time. The motto for the United Methodist Church is Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. We strive to be a welcoming community to all. So, if you find yourself in a dark place, if you are experiencing despair of any sort, even if you are acting out from that depressed state in negative ways, we ask that you find a faith community that will offer you hope — hope that comes from Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, or any form of Divinity that brings Light into the darkness.

My personal prayer for everyone in the Juneau community is that in your ordinary lives, something extraordinary will occur.

• Susan Boegli is a pastor at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church.


Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:39

Communications scholarship open

Alaska Professional Communicators are offering two $1,000 scholarships for students planning a career in communications and majoring in any phase of public communications, including public relations, advertising, radio-television, video and print.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:39

Thank you from Big Brothers Big Sisters

Thanks to the City and Borough of Juneau tax revenue and the CBJ Activities Grant, five big and little matches in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program enjoyed an afternoon of free skating at the Treadwell Ice Arena!

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:38

Thank you from the American Red Cross of Alaska

On Feb. 17, 2017 we celebrated our 100-year anniversary as the American Red Cross of Alaska. It was very important to us to kick-off the year in Juneau as the original Red Cross of Alaska Charter was in Juneau. We are so happy we did! We have so many people to thank for making the evening not only fun, but heart-warming as well. We first have to thank the volunteers that worked so hard. Thank you to Buddy Custard, board member extraordinaire, for all of your guidance, humor, and hard work. Thank you Teresa Maria Abella for asking Senator Egan to be our Honorary Chair, for plastering the town with posters, for your fundraising efforts, your excitement, your photography, and just in general for being such a blessing to the Red Cross team. Senator Egan and Jesse Keihl, what can we say? You were amazing and helpful and patient. I will miss our meetings and the laughter that always ensued. We would be very remiss if we did not thank Governor Walker for giving us your time and for sharing your Red Cross story. Your commitment and support are deeply appreciated and we were touched beyond measure by your decision to attend and speak at our celebration. Lt. Governor Mallott and Mrs. Mallott, thank you for attending and supporting our mission. You bring such a sense of calm and grace wherever you go, we are humbled that you shared that with us. Last, but most definitely not least, we must thank all of our volunteers. The American Red Cross is a volunteer-run organization with only 14 staff for the entire state of Alaska. We could not help the hundreds of Alaskans that we do without volunteers. Our volunteers are the ones that get up at 2 a.m. when we receive a call about a house fire. They leave their homes and families to help others if there is a large disaster either in Alaska or in some other part of the country. I have said it many times, and will continue to say it: Red Cross volunteers are the best in the world. They are selfless, kind, generous people who only want to help. For this celebration there are a few in particular we need to thank: Karen Petersen, Peter Chaille, June Johnson, Joyce Levine, Michelle Brown, Carolyn and Dan Garcia, Chip Wagoner, Rebecca Trude, Rick Janelle, Patricia and Kyle Lamson, Bob Bassett, and T Iputi! Thank you Juneau and Southeast Alaska for supporting the American Red Cross of Alaska’s first 100 years; we look forward to the next 100!

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:38

Planetarium presents ‘Aurora’

The Marie Drake Planetarium will present “Aurora” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, followed by “The Sky Tonight” on the Spitz projector. The event is free and for all ages.

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