In our everyday lives there are numerous ordinary activities and events that we participate in: we go to work, we go to school, we attend a sporting event, we attend a movie or a play or a concert. But life has a way of interrupting these ordinary activities, sometimes in small, subtle ways, sometimes in cruel, horrific ways. The events most fresh in our memories occurred in the last two weeks as nature unleashed its brutal force through an earthquake in China, a horrific accidental explosion in West, Texas that took lives and left a town destroyed, and the unimaginable act of two sick, delusional individuals left three dead, many injured and maimed, and a city brought to its knees in fear and grief. Not to mention an officer killed trying to capture the suspects. The effects of these and the many more horrific events we have lived through, rip through one town, one state, one nation, and, ultimately, one world.
There are many family, friends, and neighbors in Boston, in Texas, in China, and around the world wondering “WHY?!”. “WHY us?!” In this time of fear, anger, and unimaginable grief, where is the light of Peace? What candle can shine through the darkness that comes from unspeakable and unimaginable tragedy?
When contemplating how to bring light to those who have had their lives devastated, there is no way to eliminate the pain and grief they are experiencing. Think of the mothers and fathers, the grandparents, the siblings, and others who lost their children when Herod had the first-borns killed after Jesus was born. Or the families who lost their first-born in Egypt when the Passover occurred. How can we not be deeply touched by that kind of loss, and how can we not feel helpless in knowing how to console such deep, deep sorrow?
In the depth of despair and darkness, light comes not from answers, but love. God’s Love. The Jews in exile had prophets, like Isaiah, to remind them that they would be comforted, healed, and offered joy that comes from the hope and peace offered by God. Being a beacon of God’s love to a world living in darkness is what Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection was all about.
When tragedy strikes and we encounter people whose grief is inconsolable, we are called to be the light of JOY; not the joy that denies grief and pain or offers trite platitudes, but the JOY that comes from knowing God’s love and being willing to be that light for others who walk in darkness. We cannot remove grief and suffering in the world, as much as we cannot move the mountains around us. But we can be the ones that give others visible signs that God is alive, God is real, and that God will walk with those who walk in darkness. There were many examples of Light in those individuals who, despite the fear and darkness present, walked into those places and were light for hurting, scared, grieving people. They were the shining examples of the Light of the World, which knows no boundaries or creeds, except to love your neighbor as yourself.
When we are grieving and in darkness, God will walk with us. When we see others in the depths of despair and darkness, God calls us to be grace, to be love, to be joy that walks with others in their darkness, to be Light to the world. Amen.
David Schneider, Guest Preacher
Alamosa Presbyterian Church