A Light Shines in the Darkness

I am preparing a small teaching on the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Mark 13:24-37, which happens to be Advent 1. I thought I would share it with you as a blog.

Here is the reading (but I encourage you to read the whole chapter of Mark 13): 

Jesus said:

24“But in those days, following that distress,
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Here is the blog:

What do you do when life gets its darkest? What do you do when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, and all the news has gone haywire with nation rising against nation, earthquakes and famines and floods, brothers betraying brothers, race against race, disease, and senseless untimely loss? What do you do when it seems your world is coming to an end? Nothing is as it was. The old is gone and with it the security of things known and understood. It seems only appropriate that we should use, as Jesus did, prophetic language to capture such abomination, to describe the darkness encircling our hearts. A world where stars fall from the sky. What do we do when life gets its darkest?

Keep watch, Jesus said. Stay alert. Pray. (Mark 14: 34)

I was praying with a friend recently, and our prayers included the families that had been slain by a truck driver in the ISIS terror attack in New York City on October 31st. Afterwards my friend said something so simple and so profound. “The greater the darkness, the more brightly the light shines.” It seemed so true. Even the smallest flickers of hope or justice or peace or love seem magnified. Even our smallest, most humble prayers are enough to light up the dark shadows that press in in upon us. For they are hope and they are power.

Keep watch. Stay alert. Wait, like one does, in the cold autumn air, watching the sky for a falling star. We shiver, but we wait, believing something beautiful will happen – that light will pierce the darkness, and we will glimpse it, and participate in its beauty, for just a moment. Do not fall asleep.

Even in the blackest night, when all in our lives seems unrecognizable to us, Jesus promises us something spectacular. He is coming. At that time, he says, you will see the Son of Man coming in power and glory. In the midst of distress,  when the sun no longer shines in your face, He is coming. When nothing is certain, and you cannot see the way forward, He will gather you to himself. The light of the world, whom the darkness has never understood, is coming into the world, and the darkness cannot overcome him. (John 1:5) Thanks be to God!

“Stay up, wait for me, keep alert, you do not want to miss this! I am about to light up your sky!”



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