As I look around and see, or experience, the darkness we are “naming” here at the American Awakening – loneliness, depression, isolation, racism, division, addiction, suicide, struggle – I am struck by how important and powerful it is indeed to simply name it. To say it out loud. To identify with it and recognize it’s real.
But beyond that, there is a standing with. Not just pointing it out but getting near it. Walking in it. With them. With us.
Sometimes there’s not an obvious, apparent or realistic-feeling “solution” to these problems. Though we’ve tried, and should, there are many moments where all we can do is sit with the person who’s experiencing the darkness. Or have others sit with us in ours.
Of course, in our faith we believe that Jesus does have some kind of deep “solution.” But I wonder if sometimes we misunderstand what he’s saying about it all. He does, after all, talk about the meek, the weeping, the hungry, the poor as blessed – as being in line for inheritance and fulfillment and joy and life.
But look how else he interacts with the broken – those in darkness. He gets near, when no one else will. The paralytic. The 4-times divorced woman living with her boyfriend. The disgusting (by their standards) leper and woman with bleeding. The “tax collectors and sinners.” The crazy man who is demon-possessed. How many homeless men have I seen who probably looked near identical to that possessed man and instead of rebuking unclean spirits and seeking his freedom and wholeness I turn away, repulsed by the smell and his mental illness?
As we look around, and name the darkness, which is real, we are tempted to simply name it – and declare that, in fact, what we see is on Earth as it is in Hell.
But no. That is not the final word. When we are present, Jesus is present because Jesus lives in us. We are bringing life and light into the darkness. We are, in every sense, living the prayer: on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Let it be so, Lord. Amen.
Grace and Peace,