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In recent weeks there has been quite a startling example of secrets from power being exposed to the scrutiny of all. Information has been distributed throughout the world about closely guarded cables. Though some powerful politicians act indifferent to it’s public release there is clearly a seismic shift that has occurred to information in the course of a year. The nonprofit whistle blowing organization Wikileaks has exposed a trove of information both embarrassing individuals, corporations, banks, diplomats, militaries and heads of states, while inspiring resistors to oppressive regimes, independent minded reporters and a younger educated generation thirsting for a more democratic release of information.
It can be scary and dangerous to expose what has been hidden. It has been revealed that over three years ago powerful corporations and banks conspired to illegally smear and discredit organizations that might reveal what they have kept hidden. Our own government has aggressively attempted to stop the dissemination of this information to its own citizens. Who knows what prosecution or violence will be perpetrated in the name of keeping secrets? The keeping of secrets generates power and power is often what many of us are unwilling to cede. Yet, the excessive control of secrets causes distortion, sickness and paranoia. So, it makes sense that we have many who think that gaining control of these leaks and maintaining secrets is imperative.
Yet, in the end it is to no avail. Whether you agree or disagree with what Wikileaks has done, like or dislike Julian Assange, there is now no going back. We now live in a post-wikileaks world. We cannot un-know that our government spied upon the United Nation’s Secretary General, we cannot erase the fact that the previous administration lied when it said it was not keeping track of civilian casualties, we cannot ignore that big name Pharmaceuticals have been spying on the World Health Organization.
Ignorance is not bliss it is merely ignorance. Most of what we call denial is merely a form of lying to ourselves about truth and reality. There is a saying in 12 step groups that once you join one your addiction is ruined forever. It means that once you understand the truth of your situation you can never act like it wasn’t true in the first place.
The Biblical witness has a unique view of secrets. One that runs opposite to the thinking of powerful states and corporations. Secrets are only tolerated in the divine. Sometimes the divine is a mystery. Still, in the end God will reveal the secrets that have been kept in this world and expose those who keep them. Christ’s birth is heralded by the saying, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overwhelm it.” Christ is described as the light, a light that we should not hide. Hidden things are not at all in line with the spiritual life. Today’s text makes that abundantly clear.
Hear the words again. Once you were in darkness, now you are with the Lord of the Light. Live as Children of the light. Light in our text is equated with that which is good, that which is right and that which is true. Truth sets us free! We do not participate in “unfruitful works of darkness.” We are given the authority to expose what we know is in darkness. In the end Christ’s light will illuminate all darkness and no secret will be able to survive. Everything is visible in light! Rise sleepers! Awaken from your slumber! When you become conscious Christ’s light will shine on you! You will never again be able to ignore the secrets.
Every Government, church, family and individual maintains their secrets. This church certainly has a lot in its history. Many that some of you think have been hidden from history’s sharp lens. From our uncle that no one talks about to the sins that keep us up deep into the night we can not deny that having secrets is human. We must acknowledge that undealt with secrets can cause spiritual sickness. They corrode our ability to grow, they foster distrust and they isolate us from the wholeness that we need to function as our true selves.
Does this mean that I believe like the evangelicals that we should all come forward to the microphone and air out all of our dirty laundry in the open air? Not if that would be destructive. There are too many ways for us to privately deal with our secrets to offer our fear of public ridicule as an excuse any longer. As a pastor I hear many people’s secrets and I see that as a sacred trust. Yet, there are many ways in our society for building trust amongst friends, family, therapists, pastors and support groups to move away from the darkness and into the light. I would also say that I believe excessive secrets in democratic government is a spiritual sickness as well.
The revelation of secrets can be scary, it can overturn governments and embarrass the powerful. Yet, when we live by what is good, right and true we begin to be transformed into beings of light. We don’t have to wander in darkness any longer. It doesn’t take #wikileaks to remind us that transparency is still the most spiritual practice for life.
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