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"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."

IN ONE RESPECT if in no other this metaphor of Isaiah's is a very relevant one for us and our age because we are also, God knows, a people who walk in darkness. There seems little need to explain. If darkness is meant to suggest a world where nobody can see very well-either themselves, or each other, or where they are heading, or even where they are standing at the moment; if darkness is meant to convey a sense of uncertainty, of being lost, of being afraid; if darkness suggests conflict, conflict between races, between nations, between individuals each pretty much out for himself when you come right down to it;

then we live in a world that knows much about darkness. Darkness is what our newspapers are about. Darkness is what most of our best contemporary literature is about. Darkness fills the skies over our own cities no less than over the cities of our enemies. And in our single lives, we know much about darkness too. If we are people who pray, darkness is apt to be a lot of what our prayers are about. If we are people who do not pray, it is apt to be darkness in one form or another that has stopped our mouths. - Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark (The Seabury Press, NY, Copyright 1969, p. 50)

I knew, having to write the blog for this week, that something must be said. And as I pondered what to say, my daily devotional email reading from Frederick Buechner came in. Darkness. The timing could not be more perfect. And yet I looked at the copyright for this piece (I have the book,) and noted - this was published in 1969. 1969. So appropriate then. So appropriate today. And so saddened the world has not changed.

Yes, there is darkness. But how, then, are we to live our lives, we who, to quote Isaiah, "have seen a great light"? We, who are followers of Jesus, we, who stand publicly and claim we are believers, how then are we to live?

Two thoughts come to mind: we stand against, and we stand for. Now as I venture forth, I can hear some of my southern friends start to say, "Now you've gone to meddlin'." Yes. Yes I will. Because to be a Christian is to stand against evil. It is to stand against hatred. It is to take a stand and say 'enough.' And not just say 'enough', but to put our words into action and demand action. When will enough be enough, that common sense legislation can be put in place regarding gun laws? (As one friend put it, we also have the right to free speech, but when your free speech comes at 2:00 a.m. with a bullhorn in a sleeping neighborhood, then your free speech impinges on my rights as well. Yes, we have a right to bear arms, but automatic and semi-automatics? Really? Is that promoting the 'general welfare', that our Constitution requires?)

Secondly, as a Christian we not only stand against, we stand for: health, wholeness, mercy, grace. Part of the answer to this epidemic is also prevention, through better mental health and wholeness. Sociologist, speaker and author Brene Brown has posted the following: 1. Prayer + civic action are not mutually exclusive. Join me in both. 2. Step away from social media coverage and toward real people for support, action, conversation, and being with each other in collective pain. Keep informed, but don't stay glued. Our secondary trauma will not make us better helpers - it shuts us down and sends us into self-protection and blame-finding.

Each of us is responsible for our own actions, and our own lack of action. We are called to love God, and love our neighbors. How can you, and I, show God's love today? And for tomorrow?

I continue serving in Christ,

Pastor Toby

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