By PASTOR LESLEY RADIUS

Trinity Lutheran Church

The pumpkin prayer:

Dear God,

Open my mind so I can learn about You;

(Cut the top of the pumpkin.)

Take away all my sin and forgive me for the wrong things I do;

(Clean out the inside)

Open my eyes so Your Love I will see;

(Cut eyes)

Open my ears so Your Word I will hear;

(Cut ears)

Open my mouth so I can tell others about You;

(Cut mouth)

Let Your light shine in all I say and do. Amen.

(Place a candle and light inside.)

Source: www.littlellamas.com/2009/10/pumpkin-prayer.html.

As I started to carve my pumpkin in preparation for youth group tonight, I began to think, "Maybe the pumpkin prayer can teach us more than we might, at first glimpse, imagine."

While cutting the top off of my pumpkin to get to the inside, which needed to be cleaned out, I began to ask myself what "stuff" had grown inside me this last year. What would I wish to "take out" and have Jesus clean out of my life?

What "stuff" has grown inside you this year that you wish Jesus to remove?

Then, from the pumpkin, I removed the seeds and wondered what seeds I need to remove and ask forgiveness for from Jesus. Do I carry seeds of resentment, seeds of anger, seeds of bitterness, seeds of disappointment and perhaps seeds of rejection? If these seeds are allowed to be planted in my life, that certainly would not be fruits of the Spirit.

What seeds need to be removed from your life?

As I started to carve the pumpkin, I realized I was branding, or marking, the pumpkin. I began to wonder, "What is my branding? What is my identity? When people look at me, do they see Jesus through the actions and words of my life?"

What is your branding?

Last but not least, I got to put the candle inside the pumpkin. The pumpkin looked complete. It looked shiny. It looked beautiful. It looked transformed. I realized when we allow Jesus' light to shine through us, we too are transformed.

People see beauty -- not ours -- but the beauty of a Savior who died for our eternal lives. People see newness. Again, it is not our own newness, but newness in Christ. We are made a new creation in Christ.

Is Christ's light shining brightly in your life? Do you know you are a new creation in Christ? Is your life transformed by the love and grace of God?

As you carve your pumpkin this year, may you be reminded Christ comes to make us clean through the forgiveness of our sins, and he wants nothing more than to shine His light through our lives.

Happy carving and happy shining.

Statements of Faith is a series sharing lessons from local church leaders and members. To submit a column for publication, contact the Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.