Seeing God in the Darkness
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:13-18
February 15th, 2015
Indianapolis First Friends Meeting
You might be thinking that there had been a misprint in the bulletin today – isn’t Beth the one that gives the children’s message and Ruthie shares with us the morning message?
Friends, there has been no identity swap - Ruthie asked me several weeks ago to share with you a message this morning and I was happy to say yes back then, but I have wrestled this week to hear God’s voice in this message. I have struggled to hear God’s voice period. I have felt empty, in darkness, a deafening silence from within. I have awakened in the middle of the night with a pounding in my soul and a deep fear in my being. I understand King David’s words in Psalms 42 – As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, Where is your God.
Where is my God?
I think some of you today understand this darkness and might be experiencing it or have recently experienced it. It can take many forms – loss of a job, illness, broken relationships, divorce, financial fears, addictions, death. The grip of fear and pain takes hold of your soul and can disorient your sense of equilibrium, paralyze you from moving forward, and color the world a dismal shade of gray. You pray, read the Bible, practice silent worship, listen for God’s voice, and cry out in anguish to take away this pain. But you hear nothing!
Where is my God?
The scripture Ruthie read today puts us on the road with 2 of Jesus followers after his death. His disciples are in deep pain and mourning. Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah, the Chosen one to redeem Israel. And it had all fallen apart with his death. What were they to do now? Everyone was talking about what had just taken place. We can only imagine the depth of disappointment and discouragement these men felt.
Where is my God?
And then Jesus begins to walk with them. Jesus presence is right in their midst but they don’t recognize him. How can this be? The person that has been their teacher, mentor, their leader, the man they have put their faith in, who has called for a totally new way of living – this man is in their midst and they don’t recognize him?
I imagine these men felt the gut wrenching darkness with the end of Jesus time on earth. They probably felt abandoned by God and deceived when their expectations were not met. The silence was likely deafening. But there was Jesus in their presence and they couldn’t see him.
Kathy Rhyne asked our children a few weeks ago, what made them afraid – the dark seemed to be one of the top answers. I think we are afraid of the Darkness because it surrounds and hides the danger. It is the not knowing of where that danger is and what it might do to us that creates the fear of darkness. When we shine a light into the darkness we expose the danger and can do something about it or find out that there is no danger present. The real danger is in the unknowing. Darkness really is just fear wrapped in a colorless void..
But darkness and light, while separate entities are totally connected. Our beautiful creation story in Genesis tells us that light comes out of the darkness. The light was there in the darkness all the time. Light is dependent on darkness to be light.
Light is present in the darkness even though we can’t see it. God is present in our darkness even thought we might not see or feel the Divine presence. Psalm 139 tells us, the darkness is not dark to you: the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Even Jesus experienced the silence of God. During his last few months of his life, He understood that his message of love, acceptance and reversal of social standing was too radical and would lead to his death; He entered into unprogrammed worship in the garden of Gethsemane. He prayed to God to take this cup away from him. He heard nothing back from God. Darkness – silence - fear.
So how do we know that God is in the darkness, in the pain, in the anguish when we don’t see, hear or feel anything?
We know God is present because we remember those moments when we have had it – the “mountain top experiences” of a profound nature. We have had flashes of epiphany that we store in our memory bank. We remember the experience of Light that moved us and inspired us. We remember the moments of nature that leave us breathless. We recognize God in others.
One of the loudest voices of remembering God’s presence in the darkness is through our friends, strangers and our faith community. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced God through each of you – the examples I could share are numerous – cards I received at just the right moment where I felt inadequate. Emails from folks that encouraged me. Words of wisdom that were shared.
An example of God experienced through others that I hold in my memory bank was from one of our newer members Marco Ray’s daughter Lily – I met Lily once on the day of our children’s pageant – I encouraged her to joy us in the pageant and she did. When I saw her for the second time in January she ran up to me and jumped in my arms with a hug – I can’t tell you how much that meant to me and how I experienced God through Lily. For me, I often experience God through all of our children and am so thankful for this blessing.
Some of you here today remember the moments where you felt this emptiness, but are in a place of joy and fullness of God’s presence. If this is your place today, be grateful and reach out to someone in the darkness and be the expression of God.
And if you are walking on a path in the darkness today, remember that you are not alone – and that God is present with you on this journey even when you cannot feel or hear anything. And remember your moments of epiphany where you felt the Inner Light in a profound way. Where friends, strangers, our faith community tenderly and gently gave expression to this Inner Light. Hold these moments close to your heart.
We now enter into a sacred time of communion with God. This time of unprogrammed worship is a time of centering ourselves, listening for the voice of the Divine and reflection on all that we have heard today and this week. If something is laid on your heart that must be shared with others, you must stand and share. If God is speaking to you alone, then you need to listen closely and contemplate this message within.