I'll just sit in the dark - Reflections - 1-18-17

 Texts for Sunday January 22, 2017
 3rd Sunday After Epiphany

 Isaiah 9:1-4
 Psalm 27:1,4-9
1 Corinthians 1:10-18
 Matthew 4:12-23

I’ll just sit in the dark. 
How many times have I said that, even if I didn’t actually say that? 

I was teased by my siblings as the youngest in my family. That’s when I perfected the “I’ll just sit in the dark” response. You know: if they turn the lights off on me, I will just sit in the dark; if they mock me, I will not cry; or if they tickle me, I will not laugh.  Even knowing how self-defeating that response is, I still respond that way … I ignore a problem hoping it will go away… I refuse help with an overwhelming project…. I won’t talk about what is bothering me… 

Really, we’ve all sat in a self-imposed darkness at some time or another haven’t we?

Then there are the times we find ourselves sitting in the darkness that someone or something has brought with it.  Darkness presses on us from work, school, family, circumstances. We’ve sat in the darkness of not measuring up to expectations. We’ve sat in the darkness of loss. We’ve sat in the darkness of anxiety and fear.

And then there is an oppressive darkness in which we sit that comes from simply living in a certain place at a certain time. It appears our world is full of violence, cruelty, hatred, oppression, bigotry … bringing overwhelming darkness in which it seems there is no escape – the end of the world. 
Sometimes I sit in the darkness because there is no other choice.

The people to whom Isaiah writes in this text have been living in uncertain times. They have seen cruelty and oppression. It did seem that their world really could to end. They were walking in darkness and living in a land of deep darkness. 

Isaiah is living right alongside them. That may be why he can risk speaking a word of hope and light. Why is that a risk? Because sometimes, when you sit or walk in darkness, words of hope spoken without understanding or acknowledgement of the pain can hurt more than darkness. One of my favorite sayings: Someone told me, “Cheer up. It could be worse.” So, I cheered up, and sure enough, it got worse.

Isaiah experienced the darkness alongside the people. He could bring authentic words of promise and peace for his time. But God’s word has a timelessness about it. This word of light brought comfort to future generations who were under an oppressive “imperial thumb”. In the first century, Matthew saw the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as a sign that Isaiah’s words brought hope to his era. We too can claim that hope in ours.

The Psalmist asserts that God will not fail, even if everything else does. 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that it is precisely in the darkness of the cross that God saves.  Through the darkness of the cross -  where God suffers with us and all who are oppressed – comes light.

How have you walked in darkness, or how do you do so now? What light casts out that darkness?*

Comments welcome below.

*Question from #WorkingPreacher

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245