Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday's Scripture ~ Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11.
Devotional Scripture ~ Psalm 88:2-3.
While I enjoy this time of year for the break from heat and humidity...I am not a fan of it being dark so early.
Mostly because it makes me feel like it is midnight when it is actually 6:27pm.
Simon and Garfunkel greeted darkness as an old friend; my relationship with darkness is not the same. For some darkness - or that which is not readily seen or discernible - that which is mystery stirs intrigue, anticipation, and excitement. For me mystery triggers jaw clenching, headaches, and reaching for antacid. This is because I like to be in control. I like to be prepared. I like to anticipate. And all of this is because I like to not only appear confident but also prove competency. The mystery of the dark has a way of stripping all that down. Sense data is greatly reduced. What you see is what you get is negated...I
cannot see so I have no idea what I going to get me!
I find myself in these extended days of darkness longing for the light to return. To feel again the light's warmth, comfort, and compassion. To feel secure in what is before, behind, beneath, and beside me.
Simon and Garfunkel crooned in their classic folk rock ballad to people in darkness worshipping under a neon light, "Hear my words that I might teach you / Take my arms that I might reach you / But my words like silent raindrops fell / And echoed in the wells of silence."* Their words stir in me images of the prophets of old that sought to speak words of light and life into the once vibrant and now void hearts of God's people. The prophets spoke in the hopes of turning the people's attention and devotion away from foreign gods toward their creator, redeemer, and sustainer.
But [their] words [at times] like silent raindrops fell...
How grateful I am that the people's resistance to listen did not make God's prophets reluctant to speak.
Said the Prophet Isaiah, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined..." (Isa 9:2, 7). Said the Priest Zechariah of his son, John, who would continue in the prophetic tradition, "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:78-79).
Although Advent occurs during the time of year with lengthening darkness, it is a season of seeking and drawing near to light. Actually, it is a season of the Light seeking and drawing near to us in the very present person of Emmanuel. Yes, our personal lives are complicated. Yes, we have faced challenges and troubles too many to count this year. And yes, at times, we may even feel like our lives are nearer Sheol - the Hebrew place of the dead - than the living. It is into this complication, into these challenges and troubles, even into death that the Light of the World comes.
To draw us toward hope.
To draw us toward home.
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Trust, dear friends, that our God has an answer to darkness. The answer is light. Trust, dear friends, that our God meets us in the darkness, and draws us towards light. Trust, dear friends, that our God can use the darkness - and is looking to us in the midst of darkness - to remember, to call upon, to claim, and to shine forth God's light.
Reflection: List three things that make you feel overwhelmed. Search Scripture and find three truths about God's character, then write those truths beside your burdens. Which seems bigger: the burdens or God's truth? How do these truths about God's character strengthen your anchoring to God's light?
Prayer: "I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow Jesus. God set the stars to give light to the world. The star of my life is Jesus. In him there is no darkness at all. The night and the day are both alike. The Lamb is the light of the city of God. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus."** Amen.
*"The Sound of Silence," Simon and Garfunkel, released in 1965.
**“I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light,” The United Methodist Hymnal 206.
***Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal