Luke Warren

As an example of finding your voice and using it, we are printing a moving message by Luke Warren, Choral Director at Hastings High School where he leads the Select Chorale and Riverside Show Choir. In the fall of 2021, Hastings appeared in the national spotlight when the outing of the School Board President’s trans child was used by opponents to oust her from the Board.

For the finale of the Hastings High School choirs’ Holiday Concert, the stage was overflowing with earnest young people of many ethnicities, body shapes, and differences. The atmosphere was electric as Luke spoke to the audience in careful but direct terms, using the choirs’ traditional closing song to frame a message of acceptance and dignity for all:

“Light beyond shadow

Joy beyond tears

Love that is greater when darkened our fears

Deeper the peace when the storm is around

Nearer the hope to the lost who is found”

-Paul Wigmore

It is these words – so poignantly shared by our singers – that describes the duality of life. The paradox of living is messy and complicated and wrought with conflict. At times, and very recently in our own community, it can feel like darkness and fear are winning out.

However, it is our hope that here today these students, through their singing and their messages of hope, light, love, acceptance, compassion, and joy have made one thing clear.

Kindness is not up for debate.

Compassion for our fellow people is not a matter of choice, it is a matter of necessity.

Empathy is required OF all of us, FOR all of us – knowing that our shared human experience is at best messy and complicated – and that we need each other in order to allow the light beyond shadow.

Our community has recently had its own light shown upon us – forcing each of us to look deeply inside ourselves and ask – What do I stand for? And Who am I willing to stand up for?

Tonight we unequivocally stand together to proclaim that we are called to care for one another. We will lead with love, and we welcome all who feel lost to be found here with us. All who feel rejected, to be loved here by us.

We close tonight with Peace, Peace and we invite you to join us in body, mind, spirit and voice in singing our traditional closing music. Let us look to our better angels and send our message into the ether, joyfully and prophetically. Peace On Earth and goodwill to all. This is a time for love, this is a time for Joy. Now let us all sing together of Peace, Peace, Peace on earth.