January 17, 2011

darkness and light

With special thanks to my high-school prom date, JD, I offer you this quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this the 25th anniversary of MLK Jr. Day.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction ... The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

I'm struck this afternoon by the lessons for Sunday from Isaiah and Matthew with the promise of restoration for those who have walked in darkness, "they have seen a great light." I'm struck by Paul's admonition to the church in Corinth that they "be united in the same mind and vision." I'm struck by the assurance and the delight of the Psalmist who declares "The Lord is my light and salvation, whom then shall I fear?"

As we struggle to live in a world of increasing violence, ugly rhetoric, and international discord, I wonder if much has changed since Dr. King spoke the above words in 1963. It feels like we are at a point where the arc of the universe, bent toward justice, is really, really flat. It feels like the dark abyss of annihilation is looming ever closer.

I wonder if we are taking seriously the command of God to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him?

Sermons for this coming Sunday will deal with light and darkness. They will deal with repentance and the kingdom. They will talk about evangelism. But how seriously will preachers engage these issues? Will they take them seriously? Or will they fill their pulpits with platitudes and cheap grace? It is a tough Sunday to preach, my friends. Come Holy Spirit.

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