I just came from the opening convocation of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America. Our worship this evening begin when a small boy carried a lit candle to the front of First Reformed Church, Pella, Iowa, a congregation founded by Dutch immigrants 150 years ago. The candle is a gift to my denomination from the Uniting Refomed Church in South Africa. As the candle, a small flame in a large building, was carried to the front, a little girl sang "This Little Light of Mine." In the telling this story can sound hokey, overly sentimental. I don't think any of us in the crowded sanctuary felt that way. We have had an eventful relationship with our sister Reformed Churches in South Africa; finally, several years ago we confronted as erring brethren those which affirmed apartheid in the name of Christ. Along the way there were those in the Reformed Churches in South Africa who rejected apartheid. Now, the churches in that land are working toward healing themselves and their land, a long and difficult process. The name "Uniting" was chosen intentionally. God is good. While South Africa has experienced turmoil and bloodshed, and continues to have difficulties including criminal violence, apartheid did not come to the end I had assumed that it would--bloody massacre. Instead, the people are moving forward, gradually, coming together. God is good. The light shines.

I love my homeland, the United States of America. I am a patriot. But tonight was a blessed reminder to me that I have higher loyalties--to God and to Christ's Church. My fellow Christians in South Africa and around the world, of whatever race or language, are family. I am closer to them than I am to my non-Christian American neighbors. God is good. The light shines.