Overcoming the Darkness
We live in a very dark world. The darkness is growing exponentially. We may fell that there is little we can do about it. This feeling is not a new for us. That is the way the Prophet Isaiah felt when he prayed:
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence–
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil–
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. (Isaiah 64:1-3
The psalmist echoed the Prophet:
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
stir up your strength and come to help us.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved. (Psalm 80:1-3)
What is this source of darkness that we face? The Prophet Isaiah confessed:
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls on your name,
or attempts to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity, (Isaiah 64:6-7)
Perhaps we are responsible for some of the darkness. Perhaps we need to confess our failure to call upon God for help? The psalmist recognized he needed a savior when he wrote::
Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand,
the son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
And so will we never turn away from you;
give us life, that we may call upon your Name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved. (Psalm 80:16-18)
The good news is that God has given us a savior. He has torn open the heavens and come down. Jesus has come to shine in the darkness. From the Gospel of John we read:
Life was in Him,
and that life was the light of men.
That light shines in the darkness,
yet the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:4-5)
Do we seek the light of Christ? In the Season of Advent the Church celebrates the light of Christ coming into the world. That light is still coming into the world down to this day.
Yet the light of Christ is a double edged sword for many. Jesus came to expose the darkness and liberate us from it. However, the darkness does not go away. As the light of Christ is expanding, so is the darkness. We are given a choice: Choose darkness or light. From John’s Gospel we read:
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21)
The judgement of God is upon those who choose darkness. Darkness is ever increasing. Those who choose the light will escape judgement, but will experience some suffering. Jesus said that in this world we would always have tribulation. But we should fear not because he ahas overcome the world.
As the darkness increases there is a day of culmination. Just before it peaks God will judge the earth. Reading from today’s Gospel:
Jesus said, “In those days, after that suffering,
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Mark 13:24-25)
Jesus is describing what is biblically referred to as the Day of the Lord. That day is coming very soon. He goes on to say:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” (Mark 13:32-37)
Will we be ready? Will we be awake.? So many people are asleep. To be ready we must be blameless. Is that something we can do on our own? The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus will strengthen us to the end:
He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)
Jesus can do that and he will do that, provided that we have chosen the light. The light of Christ reveals sin. But, Alleluia, the light of Christ purifies us from all unrighteousness. From the First Epistle of John:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John :5-7)
The challenge of the Season of Advent is ultimately a life and death one. Advent never ends until the Lord comes in all his glory.
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)