Newsletter Article

TURNING FROM DARKNESS

   All of us were appalled by the news of the killings of 26 members of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our prayers and sincere condolences go out to those families. I learned tonight that the Church is about 120 miles from my hometown. In the Holcombe family alone, members of four generations perished. It is the kind of shocking news we are hearing much too often these days. Several people have expressed to me the concern that we are living in lawless times. 

   It is a theme and a concern that you will find repeated in the Scripture lessons chosen for this season as Pentecost ends and Advent leads us to Christmas. As the darkness draws down, the time for God's Judgment nears. The lessons lead us to expect our social bulwarks against the darkness to break down in these times. The loss of our peace and security leave us longing for the intervention of God. 

   I have lived through enough crises in our society that I believe looming darkness brings us to examine the present situation in the light of our needs for peace and justice. As our awareness is heightened by the signs of the times, we are disturbed by them. We may be moved through criticism into action. I have found that looming darkness can be a powerful motivator. Our lessons from Scripture help raise that awareness both of our situation and of our need. They lead us to review our basic commitments and remind us that our time to act is all too short. 

   This review and response is informing and moving us as a society to address those issues that concern us. So, when you come to me and tell me we are becoming a lawless society, I can almost feel the backswing beginning to move into action. Scripture is embedded in the way we think. The darkness always signals a return of the light. 

   It is never a full return of the light. So long as we live, our solutions will be partial and limited, but they will come as naturally as day and night follow one another in progression. Looming darkness brings about judgment and some partial form of resolution. The price of final solutions and ultimate justice is the end of time. I believe that Scripture raises our awareness that the partial resolution is our best hope so long as life persists. 

   At the same time that Scripture trains us to social critique it raises our awareness of our partial solutions, helping us to understand them as our best hope within our times, moving us to act while there is still time. I see the pattern of Scripture tuning society through cycles of response to looming darkness.

   This is the season when we give thanks. Harvest was mostly done by September. Celebrating the harvest at the end of November makes sense because it is what we need to be doing right now to cheer us as the natural world is shutting down. It is the time to think of endings, of wrapping up 2017 as the year's end draws near. But Scripture has taught us to look for God to come near with every ending, so that endings bring the light. In that light brought by God's coming we give thanks for the good things God brings us every day.

   This week I will set up my crèche and Advent wreath together on the buffet. That small daily ritual of candle lighting and readings will remind me of the light that is coming into Mary's life and ours. As the light wanes we Christians envision its return with power. And then time is rolled back in the Advent readings to the long wait of the world for a Savior. The countdown to Christmas begins. Hope makes the season bright. God bless you and yours!  Deborah+