“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
A Night of Shadows
(From my Tenebrae Service Homily)
As we gather tonight in the shadows, we hear the words of scripture and we let our hearts and minds meditate on what it might have been like for Jesus and his disciples that Maundy Thursday night so, long ago. Everything they believed in and had spent three years learning to build, seemed destroyed in a matter of moments.
Of course we know it was not destroyed. Rather, it was changing…changing from an earthly, regional ministry of proclaiming the gospel, (which itself had to give way to death, in order to be raised up) into a life transforming ministry that would sweep the world for all of time to come. That change was only three days away, but must have seemed like forever as they scattered into the shadows in fear.
But, that night, the night on which Jesus was betrayed and arrested, there was only shadows…shadows of betrayal, agony, accusation, and death.
Tonight as we remember, let us contemplate the shadows that may be looming over our own lives. Perhaps some of you tonight have been living in the shadows. The shadows may be many; pain, disappointment, fear, broken relationships, perhaps even the shadow of death. Tonight, let us remember that no shadow can exist for long in the light of Christ’s presence.
It only seems as if the shadows have overcome us, but in John 1 we are reminded that, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.” (John 1:4-5)
John goes on to speak about our fellowship with this great light in his first epistle. He says it is the message he heard from Jesus himself, and he is now declaring it to those who read his letter, and he declares it to us tonight.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John: 5-7)
We Must Choose to See the Light
John tells us we have a choice tonight. We can choose to walk in the darkness that inevitably falls upon us in this fallen world…or, we can choose to see a light that pierces the darkness. By faith we can claim the light of Christ and know that that light will shine in ever increasing measure in our lives as it dispels all darkness, until one day, one day we find ourselves in the light of his everlasting glory for all eternity. But, until that day comes, the choice is ours.
Tonight let us choose Light, even though we shall leave this room in a little while in darkness. And, just as the darkness didn’t last forever in the lives of the disciples, so too it will not last forever in our lives. We must choose to look for the light. I assure you…it is there. It is here.
There is however, one shadow in which we must forever stand. We stand in it because it’s shadow covers the known world, it’s inescapable. It’s the shadow of the Cross of Jesus Christ. God has shone his glorious uncreated light down upon the cross that all would see it and have hope.
It is in that shadow, the shadow of Calvary we come tonight in this service to bring all our others shadows, all our darkness and despair, all our sin and shame, and we sacrifice them to His Cross.
And, it is in that shadow that the blood of Calvary still flows, and the tide of that flow will raise us from the ashes.
Grace & Peace for a Holy Week,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”