My dear Grace and Glory congregation:
What a dark hour is upon us.
Just as we collectively began to lift our heads as a nation, to look up from the onslaught of cyclones with Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico in their cross hairs, and people buried under earthquake rubble in Mexico City, now a hail storm of bullets has rained down from a high-rise hotel room in Vegas where a deranged man emptied an arsenal of automatic weapons on a crowd of country music festival fans.
Any waning sense of security we may have felt we had seems to have dissolved like an ice cube in a glass on a sweltering afternoon. Safe from the weather? No. Safe in a crowd? No. Safe in school? No. Safe in a movie theater? No. Safe in church? No.
I wonder how Jesus felt in Gethsemane’s garden. In a place where he often found serenity—where he disposed himself to meditation. Did he feel exposed? Vulnerable? When he saw the procession of torches in the dark of night coming for him, people bent on doing him in, shutting him down for good, did he tremble? Was his speech difficult to formulate when he went out and met them with the words: “Whom are you looking for?”
When they told him, “Jesus of Nazareth” he said “I am he.” There is something powerful going on here. Good vs. Evil. It is cosmic. With all their “fire power”, the soldiers had clubs and swords, and all the light of their torches, it was no match for Jesus’ power. When he gently but forthrightly said “I am he” those soldiers with their torches and weapons fell to the ground like dead men. The Biblical story reminds us that though the forces of evil seem overwhelmingly strong, they are no match for the God who is with us in all things.
All the power of evil came to bear upon Jesus which led to the darkest hour. Religious power. Political power. The power of a wishy-washy crowd. They all coalesced in a perfect storm that nailed him to a tree outside the city gates and waited for that 33 year old rabbi, straight from the heart of God, to breathe his last.
The dark hour was upon all humanity. The Scriptures say that when Jesus was hanging upon the cross, between the peace of heaven and the chaos of earth, the sky went completely dark from noon until 3pm. But the veil of death lifted. Resurrection dispersed the darkness.
The darkness that settles over us does not have the last word, people of God! Though it feels like Good Friday, and we cannot change that, we look forward with hope to the new day, the dawn from on high, the rolled away rock, the greeting of a living Lord who has been in dark Gethsemane and felt the full force of the tempter’s power.
Let us live in the light. Let us not be prone to fear, but live with the same kind of bravery and uprightness that Jesus displayed at Gethsemane. Let us pray mightily for those whose lives are a living hell and will be for some time. Let us give thanks for those who have let their lights burn brightly amid terror of every type. A dark hour is upon us. But it will not, it cannot prevail. Our living Jesus, the light no darkness can overcome is proof of that.
Yours in Christ,