Friday, March 25, 2016
For us, it is dark . . .
[Note: What follows is a version of my meditation at DU's Good Friday service today.]
For us, it is dark--here, now. We have put out the last candle as part of our reading of the Passion Story (John 18.1-19.42). All that remains is a wisp of smoke and the scent of wax and wick. If we were here in the evening, it would be DARK. And, according to the Gospel of Luke, it WAS completely dark during those last three hours of Jesus' life. And it was VERY dark for those early followers of Jesus who, unlike us, did not know "the rest of the story."
For us it is dark-- not just here, now. Yesterday we learned of the killings on the beach of the Cote d'Ivoire. Earlier this week it was Brussels. The litany stretches back: Paris, Istanbul, Ankara, Mali, Beirut. Millions of people leaving fleeing the darkness of a war-torn Syria into the darkness of an unknown and, perhaps, perilous future. The candles go out. They keep going out. They've gone out for millennia. It just seems that it's happening more frequently.
For us it is dark--not just here, now. Around this country lights are being snuffed out. We read of the deaths of black me. We hear of school shootings, almost every week. We learn of intolerance in the southern states of America, legislation in Alabama and Georgia discriminating against LGBT people. We hear intolerance and hate in the language of our presidential candidates, language that plays to our fear of darkness while imposing its own.
For us, it is dark--perhaps even here, now. A few weeks ago, I officiated at a memorial service for a recent graduate. Less than a year out of school. A light snuffed out. This afternoon, I'll officiate at another memorial -- this one for a student who hadn't even completed his first year of college. Lights snuffed out. Not just for these two young men, but for their families and friends. There are others around us in the dark as well -- the darkness of depression. The darkness of anxiety. The darkness of substance abuse.
It was dark. It is dark. It will be dark again.
So, where is the light? Where is the hope? Is it in greater gun control? Or more guns in schools? Is it building walls at borders? Is it stricter laws? Is it better mental health care? Is it more education? Is it Bernie? Is it Hillary? Is it Donald? Where is the light?
Jesus was dead. Dead. Executed as a criminal. A harsh reality that WE didn't live through. But his early followers did. What happened next was beyond his, Jesus, control. One follower pled with the governor for his body, and buried him -- NOT as a criminal, but with respect. We're told that some of Jesus' female followers went to anoint and prepare his body as custom demanded. They did not think it was completely over. His other followers quickly found each other, both for comfort, and perhaps, for hope. And it was in those gatherings that they came to understand that it was not over, that their leader, their Lord, was still among them, perhaps in an even greater, more powerful way. So, where is the light? Where is the hope? It is in us; it is up to us. We live out the knowledge that there is, and will always be, darkness. But the wisp of smoke, and scent of wax remains, and entices us to leave our hiding places to go out and make a difference. Conversations one on one. Entering into the polling place. Serving at a soup kitchen. Holding the hand of a frightened child. Listening to a friend in despair. Here, today, we see both death and darkness. For us it is dark . . . . but it will not stay that way. We have experienced some light that cannot be entirely snuffed out. We carry it with us.