Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, faith, God, Grace, Inspiration, Jesus, Religion, Revival, Sermon, Spirituality
Have you ever really been in the dark? I don’t mean the lights turned out and the streetlights streaming through a window dark, I mean the type of darkness coating everything and causing your eyes to adjust radically to thick darkness that surrounds you. It is rare in a society inundated with light pollution to know with regularity what it means to be led by the stars and have the moon be the major source of light at night. We know darkness only with the secondary illumination of artificial light.
My in-laws live about 4 blocks from one of the beautiful beaches on the East coast of Florida. The town itself is called Indian Harbor Beach and during the day their beaches are a people watchers paradise. As sandpipers dig with their beaks surfers carry their boards into the water’s edge, middle-aged men sun in blue Speedos, women walk their dogs, elderly men scan the shoreline with their metal detectors, fishermen in hip waiters lumber into the surf with a rod in their hand and high school kids hang out in small social groups. As the beach goers soak in the day’s sunlight the beach is a place full of life.
During the night the beach is a much different story. Away from highway A1A’s artificial light the beach becomes a place of sounds instead of sights. Until my eyes can adjust to the moonlight I will stumble across the uneven terrain, arbitrarily stopping and plopping down in the sand. Sitting on the damp sand I hear the sounds of the seashore. There is the whipping wind, the rustle of saw grass, and the relentless, rhythmic pounding of the waves upon the coast. Soon my eyes adjust to the moonlight shimmering on the Atlantic Ocean, but until they do all of these sounds remain hidden in deep darkness.
Over the 20 years that I have visited this particular part of Florida the geography has changed quite dramatically. This sleepy Florida community has changed into part of the sprawling strip mall of Florida’s space coast. Yet, even with the ugly condos that now abut the beach’s edge I am still mesmerized by that beach where I first viewed an ocean.
During those years I have tried to keep one promise to myself. That at least one of the days that I am staying in Florida I will arise well before the sun and walk to the beach and watch the sunrise. It’s always an extremely difficult task, painful really, for me to rise before the sun. Yet, as I hauled my sleepy body to the wooden stairs leading to the ocean’s beach I always fill with great anticipation. In the mostly dark early morning I am again surrounded by noise and little sight. Then the sunrise bursts across the horizon in a blaze of orange, purple, yellow and red. It is like the entire world comes alive in those moments. There is the sunrise’s extreme beauty and when it has completely exhausted all of its colors what remains are once again the beauty of creation illuminated by the rays that have traveled from so far away.
This lent I want you to be selfish. I want you to not be distracted by the needs of those who surround you or the obligations that you feel bound to keep. I want you to be concerned about your own life. I want you to see yourself as a child of the light. I want you to strip away the unhelpful definitions of a Christ centered community, definitions that call this gathering an excellent social outlet, a good place for your child, a place to learn morals or a place to network. I am not asking you to achieve perfection, to set out a detailed program for individual growth or to make our congregation into a success. You are already in the light! Sleeper awake! Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. No matter what reason you find yourself in Christ’s light this morning strive towards its fruits in all that is good and right and true. Having a stake in the light effects how we are called to behave in community.
The light that illuminates our lives will make us awkwardly adjust our eyes to its penetrating gaze. It will force us to see the sins and shortcomings we thought that we had shoved to the outer darkness. But as the old cliché makes abundantly clear, “we are only as sick as our secrets.” This light, this relationship with new life, this painful revelation has turned and changed us into the beautiful creations that the creator intended. It is this exposing light that gives us the hope in the possibility of change. When we recognize that living faithfully and honestly, as Christ’s representatives in community we will expose our own vulnerabilities.
Our lives will not be measured in the end by the lists of accomplishments in which other can recite at our coffin. Our lives will be measured in our ability to allow Christ’s light to expose these vulnerabilities and turn them into something that is good, something that is right and something that is true. You are already in the light; do not return to the darkness. Do not return to the darkness because, in this light you all look beautiful!
photo by Mc shutter
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