1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
I sat writing one of my first sermons on a Saturday night in July of 1976. It was before I was married to my first wife (Rachel). I did have our dog (Deborah) there. There was no central AC in the Red Oak parsonage so I kept the windows open and a fan blowing. It was surrounded by woods in a small crossroads where no one talked like I did. I was a city boy from Maryland in rural eastern North Carolina. When the sun went down, it was dark. There were sounds in those woods. A car would swoosh by on the road at the front but sometimes a car would go by really slow. It WAS a 35 mph zone that turned 55 right past the parsonage. The dark was scary. But I had Deborah. She was a setter mix so she was not small. As I wrote in the quiet she heard something in those woods and let out one sharp bark. I think my fingernail marks are STILL in the ceiling of that house.
It's scary in the dark. It’s why we have street lights and solar lights and night lights and flashlights and penlights. We can’t see without them in the dark. A lot of crime happens in the dark. It’s hard to tell who people are in the dark. I took a walk one chilly evening and put my hood up on my sweatshirt. Rachel begged me to take it down. People do bad things to hooded people in the dark, she said.
We’re walking in some deep darkness in this country right now. We’re trying to make sense (once again) amid basic human depravity. No one wants to admit that they’re wrong. But we are. All of us. I am a pastor who loves to play golf. I have regularly participated in two of the most segregated places in American society. Too many times I was silent, too many times I held back prophetic words, too many times I kept my feelings private because I was afraid. Afraid of the dark. Oh some people have said I was outspoken. Some have called me a prophet. But I’m thinking that I was very afraid.
By the way, today is June 6. It’s the 76th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy when we sought to rid the world of another darkness. I’m sure those forces were afraid, too. Much more fearful than my paltry social fears.
Nevertheless, I’m old. This isn’t the first time the country has walked in darkness. We tend to find our way out because we still have the divine ability to love. From the darkness of Good Friday came the joy of Easter. God still gives us the strength to walk in love. Christ is the still the example of how we can persevere. The Holy Spirit reminds us that we can’t give up. No matter what the darkness. We don’t have to be afraid. The light that guides us out of this…is love.
Rachel quoted the hymn “O Young and Fearless Prophet.” Here’s the second verse:
We marvel at the purpose that held thee to thy course
While ever on the hilltop before thee loomed the cross;
Thy steadfast faith set forward where love and duty shone,
While we betray so quickly and leave thee there alone.
O God: may the light of our love continue to penetrate the darkness until we no longer stumble and no longer find ourselves in fear. Through Jesus Christ, who knows just where we are; Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser