Advent Darkness

Luke 1:68-79The Second Sunday of Advent – for December 6, 2015

“Because of our God’s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness . . .” (Luke 1:78-79)

NightIn the song of Zechariah, the stunned—but not speechless—father of the future John the Baptizer announced, “The dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in the darkness.”

But I’m not so willing to abandon darkness.

Maybe I’m thinking about the dark because of Barbara Brown Taylor’s “Learning to Walk in the Dark.” With questions and curiosities, Taylor wonders why Christians (and others) dread the dark. She writes,

[W]hen we run from darkness, how much do we really know about what we are running from? If we turn away from darkness on principle, doing everything we can to avoid it because there is simply no telling what it contains, isn’t there a chance that we are running from God?

Can Advent, a journey toward light, also be a journey of divine darkness? Continue reading →

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lowercase gods

Psalm 138 – The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost – for Sunday, June 7, 2015

“. . . I sing your praise before all other gods.” (Psalm 138:1)

Faravahar, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis
Faravahar, the visual aspect of Ahuramazda. Relief from Persepolis

Though a word often capitalized, it ended the opening verse of Psalm 138 in lowercase: gods.

After that plural word, I couldn’t concentrate on Psalm 138’s remaining seven verses. There it was . . .

I give thanks to you with all my heart, Lord.

I sing your praise before all other gods.

Do you see that final word in the first verse?

What gods? Continue reading →

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Tattoo Truths

John 1: 1-18  – The Second Sunday following Christmas – for January 5, 2014

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

The light shines in the darkness...
The light shines in the darkness…

I promise to write the truth, but muddle the facts.

I’ll try, and try is all I can do, to honor the old scripture that inspired me, and the new story that also inspired me.

Scripture (the easy part) first . . . The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. That’s the fifth verse of the first chapter in the fourth Gospel. These are words within the eloquent opening of John. They are more poetry than prose, more theology than history; they are forever an inadequate and yet honest description of, and declaration about, Jesus’ ministry.

I have opened my Bible to this passage on the coldest, darkest days of December, most often near midnight on Christmas Eve. In a sanctuary, dim and expectant, I’ve shared these words with strangers, friends, family and visitors, all crowding the pews, their hands gripping a simple, singular wax candle. They await permission to light that candle and to celebrate the birth of Christ. First, they hear words. First they sing carols. First they squirm, uncomfortably sitting too close to people they’ve never met or contentedly resting on the shoulders of persons they’ve longed to spend these moments with. At some point, as the proclaimer of good news, I’ll whisper enough prayers, quote enough scripture, and finally invite them to light those expectant candles.

One light becomes many; a symbol flickers and expands. If only for a few seconds, with none of us strangers, we will all feel brave enough to believe in the light of Christ that shines into the darkness. Continue reading →

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