Summary: To a world stumbling about in darkness looking for answers, Christ offers himself as a constant "light-filled" guide. We just need to accept his gracious offer. (This was written for the Sunday following the Columbia tragedy.)
“Light in the Midst of Darkness"
February 2, 2003 ~ Sunday following Columbia disaster
Purpose: To a world stumbling about in darkness,
Christ offers Himself as a constant “light-filled” guide.
Opening Prayer – Lord, as we come to worship you this morning our hearts are heavy. We lift up to you those families who have lost loved ones. We struggle with them as we search for answers. In our attempt to better understand this world you have made, we’ve been met with tragedy. And we take comfort in the fact that because of Your great power and mighty strength, this tragedy is not missing from your sight.
Be with us during this time we share.. Build up our faith where it may be weak, give us a sense of your everlasting presence, help us to follow your light in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us.
May all that we do during this time bring glory unto you. In the name of your Son, we pray…Amen.
Introduction – It was January 28, 1986. I remember coming out of a class in school to hear the halls buzzing with the news…something had went horribly wrong with the Challenger. With the first teacher on board, the haunting words, “throttle up” were the last words heard from those seven dedicated people who took the risk, for exploration and for their country.
I can still remember sitting their stunned as I watched the television in the library with a bunch of other students. Ronald Reagan in his address to the nation quoted John Gillespie’s poem “High Flight” when he said of the seven, “they have slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.”
It left in me a deep, sinking feeling of helplessness, that same helplessness I felt as I watch the events unfold yesterday.
And for many, you may remember the tragedy of Jan. 27, 1967 when the Apollo space craft caught fire and killed three on that fate-filled day.
Tragedies such as these, remind us just how “human” humanity actually is. There was no talk of war and peace on our airways yesterday.There was no talk of economic downturns or slumping stock markets. As a nation, we grieved, and we continue to grieve.
And, in this week, we also grieved as a church. We said good-bye to a long-time member and friend of this congregation and did our best to bring about some comfort and healing to the family as we remembered Philo together.
And I want to be honest with you this morning in saying that my first inclination when I heard the news was to bring a message on any other text than John 8.
In fact, as I sat with the Lay Speaking class during our first meeting, my mind began to race with the list of directions we could take this morning.
But when I sat down at my desk and began to pray and seek God’s direction for the less than seven hours we had before the service this morning, , I began to get some comfort in knowing that in the midst of all of this darkness around us, in the midst of our shaken confidence, in the midst of grief, in the midst of unanswered questions…Jesus Christ is still standing there saying that he and he alone is the Light of the World.
So, this morning we’re going to look at John 8 and see what that story and Christ’s response is saying to us in oder to being our journey through the seven “I am” statements. But along with John 8, I want to look at three other passages of Scripture to hopefully bring some direction into these difficult days we find ourselves in.
The first of those other three passages is found in Psalm 145:17-19…which when read in my NKJV says, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; he also will hear their cry and save them.”
For that woman condemned, Jesus was more than someone who stopped her stoning. For that woman condemned, Jesus brought a new understanding of grace and love. For that woman condemned, Jesus’ presence made all the difference in her life.
In the midst of her darkest moment, in the midst of her biggest trial, in the presence of her greatest fear, Jesus was there.
And I believe that goes for us as well. When Annie and I were searching yesterday for something to put on the church to possibly match the mood of someone going by, we “God is Near When Answers Are Far.” When the world becomes one giant question mark, it is God through His Son Jesus Christ in the presence of the Holy Spirit that says “the answers are here.”