Tonight, we join with Christians throughout the world in a dance of darkness and light and in the renewal of that relationship (that amazing journey in God) that each of us began in Baptism.
Tonight the 50 days of Easter begin.
We began tonight in darkness and calm. We have moved together in to light and into the glory of the Resurrection in song and the ringing of bells.
I have a longtime friend who is sometimes in my life and sometimes seems to disappear from my life. He and I worked together, a long time ago. Last year I read something he wrote in a journal and realized that he has suffered from depression on and off for many years. I had never known! In that piece he quoted Winston Churchill as describing depression as “…black dogs that come at midnight…”. I realized as I read his piece that when he seemed to disappear from my life, he was probably suffering a bout with depression. As we corresponded about this a little later, I realized that he was also one of the few people I know who is able to consistently articulate the light that the Resurrection brings into our human lives. I firmly believe that only someone who really knows the darkness is able to do this well.
Without darkness there is no sense of light!
I get a momentary glimpse of that when I go up to Davellyn (usually at night!) and I turn the ignition of the car off, open the door, breathe in the fresh air, and look up at the dark sky where I see those wondrous stars that are often hidden here in the lights of our wonderful city.
If there were only light, we would never appreciate its fullness!
In the reading from the letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of this in terms of death and life: “If we have grown into union with him through death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.”
We can only know the wonder of resurrection if we have experienced the reality of the passion and death that Jesus did. That human suffering comes in many different ways into our lives and sometimes overwhelms us as it undoubtedly did Jesus as he experienced the days and hours of the passion and death.
In the darkness of this night, when we hear recounted the hard stories of our history where people were asked to do difficult things and where prophets were persecuted, we recognize these themes.
In the darkness of our times,
- Where men broken apart by the horrors of war, go off in the night and murder sleeping children and their families in Afghanistan,
- Where young innocent men of color are gunned down on the street where they live,
- Where, in our own neighborhood, people gather on the corner of Morse and Ashland even tonight to give witness to the need for peace and non violence in our own neighborhood,
- When women and many men in our church are speaking out for the fullness of women’s place in our church and when our leaders even use the Holy Thursday liturgy to speak out against such equality,
Even there…we recognize the realities of darkness and of light.
In the darkness of this moment in our community’s life journey, when we have made a decision that is very hard for us and for so many, we pray that we may gradually move into the reality of Resurrection in our lives and know that we are and always will be “Resurrection people”!
And then in the gospel of Mark (the shorter version of its ending), we hear that it was the women who went and bought spices and came to the tomb very early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus. There they found the tomb already open, the boulder pushed out of the way, and a figure robed in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been placed. They hear the message: “But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”
The women were asked to give the Easter message to the men! They did so … and we continue to do so!
Yesterday, Rosie Randle was sharing some of her wisdom with me saying that some people think God sees them only when they are in the light (not when they are in the dark). She ended by saying that those people just don’t realize that God is the Light!
May we all realize that on this night of nights that in the darkness and in the light, God, indeed, is the light in our lives!