May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight Oh Lord our strength and our Redeemer. Amen
Welcome to ‘Low Sunday’, after all the activities of Advent, the expectation of the coming events, John the Baptist, Mary and Elizabeth, listening for, looking for the baby Jesus.
Here we are on the Sunday after; it’s usually the low priest on the totem pole who gets this duty this opportunity to be with the people who still come after Christmas Eve, the stalwarts, the people we can count on, the back bone, heart and soul of the church. Thanks for being here, for your faithfulness to word and sacrament Sunday after Sunday.
Today is a day to reflect on the contrasts dark and light. John’s Gospel begins at the beginning talking about light!!! John is writing some 80 years or so after Jesus has been walking the earth the disciples have had their say. Churches have sprung up around the then known world but, it has become apparent that the end of the world is not coming as quickly as expected. Jesus has gone and isn’t coming back, at least not in John’s life time. The people of God had been looking for a savior. For some time life had been hard: enslavement, worship of other gods, the temple destroyed, people carried off, families ended.
In the midst of this John, disciple of Jesus, decides that he must write, try to capture the essence of what it means to have touched the hem of the garment, to have been an eyewitness to the time when Jesus walked the earth, what it meant to experience Jesus in person. John doesn’t start with a story, he isn’t trying to reconcile the experience of Jesus
with the expectations of the Israelite history or with earlier prophecy. He is instead trying to capture the core meaning the importance of what happened. John uses the imagery of light and darkness to introduce us to what has occurred…..
Light shines in the darkness, darkness cannot overcome it, but make no mistake…there is and there will be darkness….
A couple of weeks ago in the midst of all our preparation for Christmas there was a horrible tragedy – a young man breaks into an elementary school and in a matter of minutes
20 kids and 6 adults are dead, including the young man.
How much more dark could the world be? It was too much for us to take in. In the weeks that have followed, midst the news of the fiscal cliff and the inability of our governing process to find common ground, war in Syria, dissent in Egypt, bombings in Afghanistan, there have been pictures of the daily funerals, distraught parents, siblings.
President Obama with tears in his eyes said on that first day, “Our hearts are broken today, too many times we have come together this way.”
He said to the parents, to the families of the teachers lost, that they were not alone in their grief, that the whole nation mourned with them, then he said, “Do not lose heart.’’
We fix our eyes, not in this moment alone, but on what is unseen….eternal. In the midst of the darkness, he reminded us of the light….
Now time has passed and sides are being drawn. It is natural for us to look for answers, to seek ways to rid ourselves of these possibilities. More gun control or more guns in the class room, more mental health oversight, or the right to privacy and freedom of life. We cannot sit with the intensity of these feelings too long, without creating a commission, raising a flag, declaring a political or a psychological solution. We feel a deep need for action, to do something, to fix the broken, to find meaning in tragedy.
The writer of John knew us 2,000 years ago. He could foresee the outcome of our human nature. No solution is coming, no messiah is going to fix things…. There are going to be times of darkness, when meaning seems lost…but, we know that since before time began, before the world came into created being, there was the word with God and the word was God. Life came into being through that creative force, life that was the light of all people, light that shines in the darkness, darkness will not over come it.
John knew that the people to whom he wrote would face difficult times. Many had already been in prison, had been persecuted, had watched others languish in prison, all because of their experience with Jesus. He writes to give them hope for the dark times. He writes to remind them and, now, us that even when hope seems gone, when we face the darkest of moments, even in that abject feeling that all is lost, somewhere near, somewhere on the edge, in the bleakest of times, light will break through, hope can be restored…
We come to this place week after week to hear testimony to the work of God in our midst…. We have just come through Advent, the reminder of John the Baptist preparing the way, then Christmas, the beauty of the music, the simplicity of the story. God come to earth.
Today, on the last Sunday of this year, on this first Sunday of the post-Christmas Season, we are reminded of the truth of our experience. There is, there will always be a moment of darkness, the possibility of hope lost, and today’s reminder from John:
“In the beginning was the Word, the Word was God”
That Word brings into being life, life that is the light of all people. Light shines in the darkness, darkness shall not, shall never overcome it…..amen
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen