A Sermon on Hebrews 1.1-4; John 1.1-5, 14, 16-18; Colossians 1.13-23
There is a framed photo that sits on my desk.
It's a gray-scale photo of an ally.
Two tall buildings on either side.
One's an apartment building.
One's an industrial warehouse.
Puddles have formed in the middle from the drips of leaky gutters,
All kinds of creatures inhabit the darkest corners and crevices.
This isn't a pretty place.
The photo is taken with the photographer standing in the darkest part of the ally.
And as the ally narrows,
before the pavement turns and joins with the rest of the world
the picture becomes brighter.
It becomes so bright that you can't make out the top of the building at the end of the ally.
It might seem strange to some that I have a photo like this
framed on my desk.
And all, it's dirty, and dingy.
It's not appealing.
But what most find stranger still,
is that it was a gift.
When we read about the darkness and the light
towards the end of our reading in John today
my mind goes directly to the scene in this photo.
That moment in time where there's simultaneously darkness and light.
"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."
We know darkness.
We see a darkness we don't know what to do with every time we turn on the news or open up the paper.
Surrounded by a world that doesn't seem to know justice.
Have you ever felt like you just couldn't mourn anymore?
That you ran out of sadness?
That's one kind of darkness.
Darkness was at the beginning.
A time when there was such a vast amount of nothing that we cannot even fathom what it would have been like.
But we know from Genesis 1 that even in the deepest darkness there ever was,
the light came through and the darkness didn't win.
The darkness couldn't win.
That's another kind of darkness.
In Colossians 1.21 we read:
"And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshy body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him."
The estranged. And the hostile. And the evil deeds.
This is yet another kind of darkness.
This is a darkness of comfort.
It is complete human nature to hide when we do what we know is wrong.
If you don't believe that shame is a human instinct, look at the actions of any child immediately after they break the vaze while playing hockey in the house.
Our shame leads us to hiding in dark places.
Afraid for the day when our morals catch up with us.
Afraid for the day when others' opinoins catch up with us.
Afraid for the day when our God catches up with us.
Because even for a moment,
we believed for a second,
that God stopped paying attention.
That might be the most terrifying thing I've ever said.
But it's true!
Amongst your daily activities; talking on the phone, filling up the gas tank, eating dinner, sometimes you have to actively make yourself remember that God is a part of all of it.
We talk about the greatness and the vastness of God so much that it's hard to remember that God is also in the very small, even the seemingly trivial parts of our every day lives.
It's in those moments when simply being a human being doesn't seem like enough,
that it becomes so important to remember that God made the remarkable decision to embody flesh,
to walk among us.
As if a hand were reaching into the depths of the darkness,
into the shadows,
hidden in the doorways,
of that dark and dingy ally,
pulling us out from where our fear places us, giving us this Gospel message
that God came down and was amongst us!
So stop hiding!
Come out of these dark places!
Brothers and Sisters there is no need for them!
Because the God who loves us with a greater love than we'll ever understand sent Christ to dwell with us,
to dine with us,
to experience pain and heartache and loss with us.
Jesus didn't walk down a grand staircase to check in on us for a couple of days.
This isn't your parents visiting you at college to make sure you're eating more than Captain Crunch.
Christ was born into the darkness of that time.
A poverty-dwelling, unwed mother, from the wrong side of the tracks.
After all, nothing good comes out of Nazareth.
We read throughout the Gospels the many emotions of Jesus.
And while he certainly is the light of the world,
we know that he saw plenty of gray, and plenty of darkness.
After all, life exists somewhere in between all of that.
If we take a look at each other here this morning,
no matter the color of our eyes, or hair,
no matter our race, or age, or gender,
we all inhabit bodies.
We inhabit this space that is our own because we were created that way.
I'm here to tell you that the cells and organs and bones that your skin envelops and this oldest appliance we call our bodies and the very human things in encompasses,
Not because of anything you've done.
But because we have been reconciled through the death of Christ's body.
Paul became a servant of this Gospel.
He stepped out from the darkness, into the light, to declare this wonderful news.
The question remains;
What will you do with this news?
So I look at this framed photo on my desk.
This industrial "light at the end of the tunnel" setting,
and I try to see myself in the picture.
I have to say that the darkness looks enticing. It looks safe in that, I could stay hidden there very easily.
But when I think of the price of that, and the reward of coming out of the darkness,
I know that it's because Christ was sent down to be amongst us,
That I understand it as my calling, to stand in the light.
Photo Credit: Nicole Logas.