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Cursing the Darkness

The lectionary texts for this coming Second Sunday of Advent encourage us to bring a message of hopeful peace into the dark corners of our world.

Isaiah 40:1-11 says things like:

“Speak TENDERLY” (Hebrew: “to the heart”) – ALSO “comfort. comfort”

Bring words of healing and hope to broken people–of Consolation and care.

2 Peter 3:8-15a is another one of those apocalyptic kinds of passages, which are not about the end (as such passages are so often misinterpreted) but rather about life.  Particular, this is about LIVING WITH FAITH AND HOPE while we wait for God’s advent.  This isn’t about trimming the tree – but a life of courageous witness.

And what about the Gospel passage from the day:  Mark 1:1-8?

The oldest of the synoptic gospels begins differently that Matthew and Luke (and certainly differently than that wonderfully odd-ball Gospel of John).  Mark begins with a strong message of hope, saying in his first sentence…

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,”

How different this is from the themes of our conversations right now.  I mean, really, how much HOPE do we hear?

I remember a Hagar the Horrible comic strip from a while back.

Hagar is standing near the Monk, who is holding his Bible and looking very “religious.”  The Monk says something like:

“It is much better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Hagar responds, “But I like to curse the darkness.”

If you were in Richmond, VA this past summer, you’ll remember that the lights in some places were out up to a week – maybe even ten days.  We lost it in my house about five days.

We slept better…showered at the YMCA…played board games…used candles…cooked all our food on the gas-grill…ate lots of “Little Debbie” snack cakes.

When the power came back on, we watched the news.  Now before I tell you about the first news report, let’s set the stage:

Nearly 800,000 were out of power as a result of the storm.  Crews from as far away as Indiana and Kentucky were working with Dominian VA Power around the clock.  This was a wonderful occassion for people to say THANKS for the hardship these workers were going through to get the power back online.

Our family had eaten one meal at a “all-you-can-eat” steak-house.  We saw a crew, covered with dirt, looking worn and weary.  I thanked them for all their work.  One guy said: “Thanks for noticing.  You would not believe how many people have compained and cursed us out because we take a break to eat or get a few hours rest.  We’ve been working 18 hour days since the storm left the area.

I could not believe that folks around my city were really that insenstive.  Then I watched the news…report after report of people in our neighborhoods, complaining about the lights being out.  They complained about the Mayor, the Governor, and even the President – saying it was their fault.

How quickly we fall into the practice of cursing the darkness!  And why not?  Lighting a candle aks something of us!  Oh, no, not in the legalistic, requirement-founded, rule-based, “you gotta do such and such” to make God happy sort of way.  No, not that – but candle-lighting still asks something of us.

It takes faith to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness…the kind of faith that says, “God is bigger than all of this and Jesus is Lord over all of it!”

It takes hope to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness…the kind of hope that puts a smile on our faces and a “NEVER GIVE IN, NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER QUIT” sort of swagger in our step.

It takes love to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness…the kind of love that allows the Holy Spirit to be a light in us and through us – in our words and deeds – so that those in dark places hear “comfort, comfort” as we speak “tenderly” to their hearts.

It takes peace to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness…the kind of peace that has learned to rest in grace AND (as a result) to live at peace with others, while being an ambassador of peace in a broken world.

That’s one way to live.

On the other hand, there is that damned darkness we can curse and compain about.

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