Rev. Chris Snow
North Hill Christian Church
Psalm 102:12-17, Mark 13:1-8, 24-37
Over the past week and a half I have been waking up with a range of emotions, based on what news I was waking up to. At the beginning of this journey I was waking up tense and on the verge of an anxiety attack, as I would wake up to the news of the stock market dropping. This worry and panic of how would we, and the church persevere through this if the stock market kept plummeting. But as the days progressed, something in me changed. I started noticing more and more, the good that has been taking place in the midst of this journey.
I have noticed how volunteers have stepped forward to make masks for our healthcare workers. I have seen as neighbors are caring for their more vulnerable neighbors. I have noticed, how words of kindness and encouragement have become more dominant on social media. I have heard more and more of people offering to help others as best as they can. I have noticed how there is a light shining through the darkness.
As I struggled with the text for this week, I had the desire to pick something else. “We don’t need a dark and depressing text for this Sunday. We don’t need to feel like this right now. We need something hopeful. Something that reminds us of the good news.” But then I saw these words, “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.”
The entirety of the 13th chapter of Mark has this apocalyptic language to it. Foretelling of the destruction of the temple. Telling of the desolation of Judea that will scatter the people. The language continues to get darker and darker until the 26th verse when we have the arrival of the Son of Man. The darkness is so pervasive that even the moon and stars cease from giving off light.
I can imagine this darkness being as thick as ink, that takes over all sources of light and covers it. A darkness that seems to flow into every crevice like liquid, and invades every space. It is then, in that moment that the Son of Man appears in the clouds with great power and glory.
Now, each time that we hear of this description of the divine breaking forth into the world, showing great power and glory, we get this image of this brilliant light. Bringing with it hope and assurance. Why should it be any different in this text? In this time of great darkness, a brilliant light breaks through, where all other lights have gone out. This great light illuminates the coming of the Son of Man through the clouds.
What an amazing imagery of hope in the darkest places of our lives. But this isn’t the first time that we use this image in our faith journeys. Instead we hear and practice this imagery every year before Christmas. This yearning through a time of darkness for the light of God to break forth. We yearn for the good news of our savior. We yearn for hope to break forth into the world. We cry out for the divine light to pierce through the darkness that seems to invade our lives.
The language of advent is still with us. The imagery of advent, of waiting and yearning for something better is still with us. The hope of what is yet to be is still with us and we are crying out for it. And yet, here we are. We are nearing the end of the Lenten journey towards the cross. We know where our journey is leading us. Things are going to get darker before they get better. But the darkness is not in control. The darkness is not the dominant force in our world, or else it could prevent the light of the divine from breaking through. This text is set in such a way that it is preparing the disciples for, not only Jesus’ death but his departing from this world. Preparing them for the darkness that is still to come, and yet, there is still room for hope.
Then as the text continues we get into the section, where more often than not, the focus has been placed on verse 33, “Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come.” But the text continues after this instruction to keep alert, to better instruct us on how we are to do this. “It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the door keeper to be on the watch.”
As the man goes off into the unknown, those whom he has trusted with the work of his home are left to continue their duties. They are left to continue the work, each according to their own position or skills. To continue the work of the house until his return.
It is with this instruction that my imagery of the all invasive darkness falls apart. Because, even as the darkness seems to invade our lives. Even as the text seems to declare this all encompassing darkness, there is still room for little lights of hope and goodness in the world. If we have been instructed to keep doing the work that we have been given, then we are to be bearers of the light. We are to go forth through the darkness letting our lights shine bright, until that time when Christ comes again.
One of our elders raised the idea at our last meeting that maybe we can put candles up in our windows again. Giving hope to the world. Reminding one another that even in these dark times, there is still room for hope.
However, we are called to bring hope into the world, let us stay strong. Let us continue to push through the darkness, spreading hope in our world, now more than ever. Let us continue to share and become stories of hope in our world, that bring light in times of darkness. Let us, bring the light of hope to those who feel encased by the darkness. Let us proudly bear the light of Christ in this time, encouraging one another on this journey.