Posts Tagged ‘dark versus light’

Job 10The Shining in the Dusk

Sunday, December 23, 2018

In the opening of this chapter, Job’s frustration is evident with the lack of answers from God for the fundamental question concerning his guilt or innocence. He is in the darkest yet brightest of places . . . he is in that luminal space between day and night, heaven and earth, joy and sorrow, well-being and pain.  He stands at the moment of a new creation . . . In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light.  God saw how good the light was.  God then separated the dark from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-4Job yearns for God to separate him from the darkness that has descended upon him; Job wants to know if he is innocent or guilty.  Job wants to know why he is suffering so deeply.

Job sees a darkness yawning before him and does not know why he stands on this threshold.  “Discouraged, worn down by pain and by the assaults of friends and deity alike, [Job] closes his part of this cycle of speeches (v. 18) by returning to the theme of his beginning: ‘Why did you bring me out of the womb?’ In chap. 3 he thought it would be better to be dead, and in 7:16, 19 he proposed to be left alone.  He ends with a figure of the darkness to which we will go, ‘deep shadow, all disordered, which shines like dusk’ (10:22).  It is the mirror image of his beginning in 3:4: ‘That day, let there be darkness.’  But Job has come to a different point.  Then being alive was too terrible; now he wants to be dead because his structure of assumption has fallen apart.  Divine power is not correlated with divine justice, and, though he deserves the latter, he is subjected to the assaults of the former”.  (Mays 375)

We watch Job struggle and we are fascinated because we see our own flailing against pain in this story.  We see that he stands on the verge of complete exhaustion and decomposition.  We hear that he looks for an end to his existence. Job demands answers of God as night threatens, and as he sinks into deep despair he runs the risk of missing the luminosity of this moment between worlds. As the shadowy dusk approaches we suddenly see the smallest glint of light in the gathering darkness and we sense something here . . . Job stands not on the edge of destruction but rather on the brink of an incredible new beginning.  There is a shinning in the dusk that harbingers a new and indecipherable rebirth rather than a horrible and ignoble end.

Job’s suffering will end and he will experience God’s goodness in a way he had not imagined; but today we see him on a precipice of cataclysm, stunned by a belief that God’s power does not appear to be accompanied by mercy.  Job will struggle with the misguided advice from his companions; he will persist in searching for answers to his questions.  A new dawn will burst upon him instead of the nighttime he fears.  We know that Job will come to find that the bottomless well of nothing over which he is poised to fall is in fact a bottomless well of safety . . . surety . . . and limitless love.  This is the liminal space in which Job finds himself today.  It is a space that we too may sometime occupy.

With God, even the night sky holds a starry luminosity that guides us back to the light of day.  In God, all harm turns toward good, all disaster becomes rescue. Through God there is a shinning in the impending dusk because God separates the darkness from the light . . . and sees that it is good.

So let us remember and pray . . .

When we stand on the brink of disaster, let us close our eyes, fold our arms across our lungs that gasp for air, and allow ourselves to sink into the shining darkness of God’s arms.  And let us allow God to bring us out of the abyss into the eternal light of God’s love.  Amen.

Also see the “Falling Down the Well” page on this blog.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 375. Print.

A re-post from November 20, 2011.

Images from: http://reflectivedust.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html and http://deadpoet88.wordpress.com/category/love/

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2 Corinthians 4: Keeping Ourselves in the Light

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – if the gospel we preach is hidden, it is hidden only from those who are being lost. They do not believe, because their minds have been kept in the dark by the evil god of this world. (Verses 3 & 4)

Paul reminds us that despite knowing that God chooses to walk among us, and despite knowing that we are spiritual treasure in common clay pots, we still doubt the presence, power and fidelity of Christ.

We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. (Verses 7-9)

Paul tells us firmly that while the world tells us that we are powerless, hopeless and unloved, we in fact have the source of all power at our side. We have the generator of all hope in our person. And we have the spirit of justice paired with mercy in our hearts.

When we spend time with Christ, we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble. For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.  (Verses 16-18)

The evil one represents himself in our desire for fame, wealth, and power, and lures away from goodness. The evil one uses our fears against us and fires the anxieties that divide us.  The evil one of this world is any one or any circumstance that draws us into the darkness so that we forget to look for the light. Paul knows that our gratitude heals our disconnection from the light, and so he reminds us that, All this is for your sake; and as God’s grace reaches more and more people, they will offer to the glory of God more prayers of thanksgiving. (Verse 15)

How to remain in the light? Where to find resources? How to live through the darkness of days and the fears of nights? Paul reminds the Corinthians – and he reminds us – that gratitude for the light of Christ is imperative if we are to remain in the light.

Today we find the time to give thanks as we explore chapter 4 of this letter. When we study other translations of these verses, we invite the light into our minds and hearts.

Image from: https://islampeace1.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/verse-of-the-day/ 

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Matthew 28:8-15: Fake News

Monday, April 9, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on the false news that abounded in Jesus’ time just as it does with us today.

While [Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] went on their way, some of the soldiers guarding the tomb went back to the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 

Wherever there is darkness, the light of Christ will pierce deceit and lies.

The chief priests met with the elders and made their plan; they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers and said, “You are to say that his disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep.

Wherever there is secrecy, the power of God will overcome plots and schemes.

And if the Governor should hear of this, we will convince him that you are innocent, and you will have nothing to worry about.”

Wherever there is hatred, the consolation of the Spirit will heal with justice and mercy.

The guards took the money and did what they were told to do. And so that is the report spread around by the Jews to this very day.

Wherever there is false news, we rely on the authority of God to lead us to the truth. We trust the model of Christ to ask with compassion. And we believe in the support of the Spirit to reconcile the world.

Click on the image to read about a case study of fake news by Shelly Palmer or visit: https://www.shellypalmer.com/2018/01/fake-news-case-study/

We learn how to spot fake news at the following sites: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/10/31/559571970/learning-to-spot-fake-news-start-with-a-gut-check and http://www.readbrightly.com/critical-reading-teaching-kids-discern-real-information-fake-news/ and https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/10-ways-to-spot-fake-news-story.htm

Enter the words false teachers, false leaders or false prophets into the blog search bar for how to discern good fruits from bad.


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Isaiah 28 and 29: The Fate of Samaria – Part II

Friday, March 2, 2018 

Hills of Samaria

Go ahead and be stupid! Go ahead and be blind! Get drunk without any wine! Stagger without drinking a drop!

Isaiah warns us that we are sometimes drunk with our desire for total independence from God.

So I will startle them with one unexpected blow after another. Those who are wise will turn out to be fools, and all their cleverness will be useless.

Isaiah pleads with us to see the inversion of God’s plan that the high are brought low and the lowly rise.

Those who try to hide their plans from the Lord are doomed! They carry out their schemes in secret and think no one will see them or know what they are doing. They turn everything upside down. Which is more important, the potter or the clay? 

Isaiah asks us to examine our understanding of our relationship with God.

In this sacred time of Lent, as we explore our dreams and motivations, we also reflect on our motivations and desires. And so we consider . . . When darkness surrounds us, we remember that God will always convert all harm to goodness. When we believe we can hide from the Creator, we deceive only ourselves. When we believe that we are the potter rather than the clay, we deny the Spirit. When we finally perceive the light in the midst of destruction, we acknowledge the redeeming love of Christ.

Tomorrow, the cornerstone.

A reflection written on January 30, 2008. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaria 

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Proverbs 13: Walk With the Wise

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of refrains that come to us over the centuries. We avoid their advice at our own peril; we integrate their lessons for our own good, and for the good of all.

Intelligent children listen to their parents;
    foolish children do their own thing.

Whether we see ourselves as wise or foolish, there is always something to learn from our elders; wisdom is, after all, the patience to listen for, and to respond positively to God’s Word.

Careful words make for a careful life;
    careless talk may ruin everything.

A good person hates false talk;
    a bad person wallows in gibberish.

We know that words matter. Harsh words create anxiety and deepen rifts while positive words enrich our lives and open us to transformation.

A pretentious, showy life is an empty life;
    a plain and simple life is a full life.

The lives of good people are brightly lit streets;
    the lives of the wicked are dark alleys.

Societies based on profit have difficulty understanding God’s goodness. Cultures with structures that care for the marginalized will give preference to the poor when making decisions. Do we live in dark alleys or on brightly lit streets?

 Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord,
    but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel.

Easy come, easy go,
    but steady diligence pays off.

We know that humility is the best foundation for a fruitful life. Openness to Jesus as The Word of God brings us the persistence, fortitude, and hope we will need to serve as disciples of Christ.

Ignore the Word and suffer;
    honor God’s commands and grow rich.

Sound thinking makes for gracious living,
    but liars walk a rough road.

Honesty in all our ways may be difficult but trustworthiness comes with great efforts. While we may temporarily deceive those from whom we hide, we know that ultimately the truth will always come forward.

Become wise by walking with the wise;
    hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Scholars believe that the Book of Proverbs is a gathering of sayings brought together after the exile experience of the people of Israel. After huge loss and great difficulty, the faithful discover that both their actions and their words matter deeply. They also know that nothing and no one hides from the Creator. As New Testament people, we have as a model the actions of Jesus as he lives out The Word of God. As Easter people, we have the presence and consolation of the Spirit to buoy us up when we are lost or frightened. For all of these reasons, let us decide to walk with the wise rather than play with the foolish.

Today’s verses are taken from THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible. When we compare other translations of these words, we find that the difference between the wise and foolish is not that difficult to distinguish.


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Lamentations 2:19-22Rising Uplight in dark

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Book of Lamentations is dark and moody, full of wrath and anger.  The coming of Christ is the only antidote against such deep grief.  Our own petition for goodness and wholeness brings us into union with this Messiah,  Christ.  Each day, each night we have the choice before us.  We can either try to solve the problems that confront us on our own, or we can Rise up, shrill in the night to beat against heaven’s gate, asking God for mercy and justice for ourselves, for our loved ones, for our enemies.  This is what best combats the ugliness we read about today.

In order that we not consumed by this ugly anger that would compel us into further depths, we might look at the opposite of rage-filled thinking. We take on a thinking that rejects rumor, derision, the stirring up of hate and falsehood.  Psalm 101:1-7 is part of the Morning Prayer in MAGNIFICAT today.  The citation before the prayer follows:  Every day offers a choice: what sort of reading, what sort of TV, what sort of conversation, what sort of friends will we choose to welcome into our home? And so we sing with the psalmist: My song is about loyalty and justice, and I sing it to you, O Lord.

Another citation from the Morning Prayer is Philippians 4:8Whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

shining-in-the-darknessWe know the world is made of diverse creatures and creations that bring us sorrow and joy, diverse conditions that create havoc and love.  In order to dispel the dark clouds of today’s lamentation, we might continue.

Whatever is evil, whatever is deceitful, whatever is lie . . . rise up, shrill in the night against the darkness.

Whatever is good, whatever is holy, whatever unites and calls home . . . rise up grateful, in praise of the light.

Whatever is Christ, whatever is spirit, whatever is life-giving . . . rise up joyful, singing with expectation of God’s mercy and justice.    

In all circumstances, dark or light, rise up singing with the Lord. 

My song is about loyalty and justice, and I sing it to you, O Lord.

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 24, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 24 February 2009. Print.

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Ephesians 5:8-10: Groping Through the Murk

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dave Erickson: Fog Dome

Dave Erickson: Fog Dome

In times of trouble, we might turn to scripture.

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. (NRSV)

In times of joy, we might share verses of praise.

You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord’s people, you are in the light. So you must live like people who belong to the light, for it is the light that brings a rich harvest of every kind of goodness, righteousness, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. (GNT)

In times of pain, we might seek Christ in The Word.

For you used to be darkness; but now, united with the Lord, you are light. Live like children of light, for the fruit of the light is in every kind of goodness, rightness and truth — try to determine what will please the Lord. (CJB)

In times of anxiety, we might flounder through our days in the Spirit.

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. (MSG)

In times of doubt, we know that God’s word is a light in the darkness.

stepping-stonesIn the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. Light brings every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. (NCV)

In times of celebration, we know that Christ’s light has brought us through the murky confusion of this life, always showing us The Way to an eternity of peace.

When we compare varying translations, we begin to see that the obstacles in our lives are the stepping-stones that lead us through the murk and into the light that is Christ.

For more photographs by Erickson, click on the image above or visit: http://ericksonphotography.net/?p=130

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Ezekiel 12:1-12: Eyes and Ears

Thursday, August 18, 2016listen

More than once in scripture we are counseled to keep eyes and ears open. The prophets encourage us, Wisdom Books advise us, and Jesus recommends to us that transformation begins with listening and watching. How then, can we go wrong by keeping our eyes and ears open?

Today’s reading also describes a symbolic preparation for exile. We are advised to do as the prophet has done – dig a hole in the wall so that we might escape under cover of darkness. All of this leads us to an examination of self.

What is in our baggage?

Our modern psychology has given us vocabulary we might use to describe the worries and anxieties we bundle and carry with us each day. Perhaps when we escape we might leave much of this behind and take instead our hopes and dreams.

Escape from what?

We become pigeon-holed by the world just as we pigeon-hole others. Perhaps we might escape this stunting habit and take up instead the loving behavior Jesus teaches us.

Why in the dark?

As small children we may fear the dark as we ask patient elders to turn on lights to ward off monsters. The darkness is the place where we decide to submit to fear or trust. As adults, we asked to step into the darkness of the future, knowing that the light of Christ is all we need to light our way. Perhaps we might allow the light of our discipleship to pierce the darkness for others.

Where are we to go and what are we to do?

The ancient patriarchs and their families placed all trust in God. Perhaps we too might step into radical trust and join in solidarity with others as we join Christ in his Way.

Who is the prince among us?

The prophet Ezekiel tells us that there is a prince among us who will shoulder his burden and set out in the darkness, going through a hole that he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone. Perhaps we might open our ears and eyes to the words of Ezekiel as he foretells the kingdom of Christ. Perhaps we might hear and see the goodness of God amidst the darkness of the world. Perhaps . . .

Tomorrow, our rebelliousness.


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Genesis 1:1-5: The First Day

Dawn from the International Space Station

Dawn from the International Space Station

February 19, 2015

In the beginning great darkness covered the wasteland . . . In the sterile or futile moments in our lives we remember that God creates great beauty out of desolation. During our Lenten journey, let us offer the darkness and wilderness days of our passage to God for conversion.

A mighty wind swept over the waters . . . In the empty or fruitless moments in our lives we remember that God brings light and life out of nothingness and despair. During our Lenten sojourn, let us offer any emptiness of our days to God for healing.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed – the first day. In the confusion or turbulent moments in our lives we remember that God brings order out of chaos. During our Lenten pilgrimage, let us offer any misunderstandings in our days to God for transformation.

John, the Beloved Apostle, reminds us that: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) Let us trust the One who has always been and will always be. Let us trust the One who creates and loves. Let us trust the One who accompanies and heals, guides and protects. Let us place all our trust in this One.

Today we gather all the trials and difficulties we experience and we hand them all over to the One who brings light out of nothing, order out of chaos, energy out of weariness and fullness out of nothing. On this first day of our Lenten passage, we offer all to the One who is worthy of our trust. And so we pray,

Good and powerful God, you bring all darkness to light; bring us also to your truth.

Good and gentle God, you bring all injury to healing; bring us also your comfort.

Good and gracious God, you bring all disorder into your plan; bring us also into union with your loving heart. Amen.

For more images of the world’s best view of sunrise, click on the image above or visit: http://article.wn.com/view/2012/05/28/The_worlds_best_view_of_sunrise_Space_Station_astronaut_snap/

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