This is Pastor Tim’s article for the January Banner
Because the deadline for mailing the Banner to you is in mid-month, I am sitting down to write this article before Christmas. There was another terrible school shooting yesterday, this one at an elementary school in Connecticut. Many children and their dedicated teachers died.
I hugged Madeline and Bronwyn extra tightly last night, as I’m sure you did with your own loved ones, near or far via arms, phone, computer or prayer.
My intention before yesterday was to write about holding Christmas in our hearts all year long, but I am having trouble with that idea today. I don’t feel it, you see. I feel overwhelming sadness, despair, and a longing for safety for all of the world’s children. I don’t feel wonder or generosity. I feel the uncertainty of a dangerous world. I feel anger.
I feel darkness.
In the days to come, we will all examine how such violence comes to pass and what we could do to prevent it. We’ll talk about trauma recovery, security in our schools, gun ownership and gun control, and mental illness and treatment. I pray that the discussions will be fruitful.
But none of these discussions will reassure me in the midst of darkness. None of these discussions will bring comfort to the families touched by inconceivable loss.
The retail behemoth would have us think that Christmas is all about joy, dazzle, and excitement. In the midst of tragedy, no store will be able to supply enough twinkly lights or latest gadgets to light the darkness.
When deep darkness descends, I stretch for the Holy Spirit, who gives me just enough faith to know that there is light despite my inability to see or feel it. I turn to scripture, my deepest comfort in times of trouble. There are so many verses of darkness from which to choose – here are a few:
Abram was “enveloped in a dreadful darkness.” (Genesis 15:12)
“You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.” (Psalm 88:18)
“Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.” (Job 30:26)
“We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.” (Isaiah 59:9)
And yet many of these embattled and embittered saints from the Hebrew scriptures are turned heroic by the grace of God, given persevering faith in the face of great hopelessness. I found a few verses to be of particular comfort today and I offer them to you.
Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. (Micah 7:8)
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. (Romans 13:12)
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
As I set my mind to keeping a Christmas spirit, the spirit of light, before me during 2013, these are the verses that I will remember.
And now I take a deep breath and go about the work that God has set before you and me, to live with you in the city on the hill, to put my single candle on a stand next to your candles similarly lit, to don the armor God has provided in our Savior, born in a tiny stable in a dark world lit by a star.
Your Partner in Christ,