One of the best moments of my day is standing at the door as my kids leave for school. No, it’s not because I will have more time to myself. Instead, this part of the day is special because it’s the time I give my kids a blessing. For example, this morning as I sent them off I reminded them, they ARE the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World, and they get it. They know they are to share their hope and love with others. As I watch the kids walk across the lawn carrying backpacks that are stuffed full of books, snacks and knick-knacks it’s amazing to know they can change the world
Of course you, too, are the Salt of the Earth and Light of the World. In Matthew 5, we read Jesus’ most famous sermons where he blesses the crowds saying:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Children, youth and young adults are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and they too can have an amazing impact on their peers and friends. As a church community we must find ways to bless those around us so that we all might recognize and act on the blessing we have been given by Jesus himself.
In the last couple of months I have come to see just how important it is to be the Salt of the Earth. Channel 7 News, here in Denver, reported that in a 13-day period there were four teenage suicides in Douglas County. And according to Channel 7 News, Jefferson County sees between 65 and 85 suicides every year, and the county coroner said that most of the people are middle-aged white males. In 2013, three children died by suicide, two boys and one girl.
As the Salt of the Earth we are uniquely able to support others as we share God’s powerful love with those in need. I believe by talking and learning about suicide we can work to remove ugly stigmatisms associated with mental illness, depression, and substance abuse. On March 30 I have asked Richard Eveleigh, Executive Director for Second Wind, to join us in worship and talk more about how our church can support not only Second Wind but all our community as well.
The belief that the tragedy of a young person choosing to take his/her own life can be prevented was the prime motivator for the founders of the Second Wind Fund back in 2002. That school year, four students at a Jefferson County School in Colorado died by suicide in a nine-month time frame. The community - profoundly affected - grieved.
In response to these four suicides three members of a local faith community, Jeff Lamontagne, Dr. Marjorie Laird, and Scott Fletcher organized a small community "Walk, Run, Ride" event to show solidarity with the school. The event, attended by 66 people, also raised a modest amount of money, and it was decided to use that money to provide direct support to other young people at the school. The Second Wind Fund was born!
Richard has been Executive Director of Second Wind Fund, Inc. since January, 2012. He began his career as a teacher in the United Kingdom - his country of origin. He has also taught at schools in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Prior to immigrating to the USA in 2000, Richard completed three years of training at the York Center for Psychotherapy, UK. He was then employed as a Case Manager and Mental Health Crisis Worker at the Lenape Valley Foundation, a nonprofit mental health center in Pennsylvania. Richard and his wife Chris moved to Denver in 2005 for family reasons. Eager to develop his career in the nonprofit sector, Richard completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of Colorado, Denver, before accepting the position of Grants and Publications Coordinator at Mental Health America of Colorado where he was soon promoted to Vice President of Programs. In addition to his MPS, Richard holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the University of Hull, UK; a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Wales, UK; and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of London, UK.
My prayer is that kids will leave for school every day looking for ways to be a blessing to others instead of feeling that they are useless or invisible. After all Jesus did say “You are the salt of the earth.”