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Darkness now, then light

by davesandel on April 15th, 2021

Thursday, April 15, 2021       (today’s lectionary)

Darkness now, then light

­­­­The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.

Deep in the Frio Canyon, in the center of the HEB Foundation Camp, I found a plaque:

There shall be the Church and the World

And the heart of Man shivering and fluttering between them,

Choosing and chosen.

Valiant, ignoble, dark and full of light

Swinging between Hell Gate and Heaven Gate

And the Gates of Hell shall not prevail.

Darkness now, then light.

– Thomas Stearns Eliot

Look up from the depths down by the riverside, look right up at the big wonderful, at the blue blue sky. Down in the valley, when the sun rises and sets, shadows fall long and hard across our paths, but then … just look up!

The one who comes from above is above all. The one who comes from heaven is above all. The one whom God sent speaks the words of God.

Peter and John have been in trouble for several lectionary days now.

We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching! Peter answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Those high priests can’t keep their grubby hands off our heroes. In jail, out of jail, in court, out of court, but Peter’s story stays the same. Nothing gets him off message.

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. Then God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior.

“There shall be the church and the world,” T. S. Eliot wrote. And how should we then live? “The heart of man shivering and fluttering between them.” Can I trust you God to care for me, can I believe you will not leave me hanging? I am afraid of you, and I am afraid of the future, but truth be told, I am most afraid of myself.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. Many are the troubles of the just man, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

But I am not just. I am no more “just” than anybody else. But even if we are not just, we all need you, Lord. We are all of us, as time passes, brokenhearted. “Valiant, ignoble, dark” we are. I do not trust my heart or my mind or my will to approach you and pretend to be something I am not.

“Choosing and chosen.” Again, I feel so small, incomplete, inadequate. My choosing lasts but a moment, but the fact of your choosing me lasts a lifetime. I am “valiant,” you say? Will you hold me up, stand me up against the forces of evil in this dark world? Then I will truly be “full of light.”

The gates of heaven draw me like a moth to light. But the gates of hell call out like black birds screeching in the wind, “You are not worthy. You must pay the price of your disobedience. You must be punished. You deserve to be condemned. And you are.”

Oh, yes, I say. All of this is true. Except … that last little bit. Because I am not condemned. God is good all the time, even and especially when I am not. There is no getting around the love of God.

Darkness now, then light.

(Acts 5, Psalm 34, John 20, John 3)


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