In an effort to describe the dynamic tension in which we find ourselves in this season of national and even global fear and uncertainty, perhaps the best biblical language I can land on is that of “light and darkness.”
The rise of covid-19 “cases,” not just in parts of our country but in Europe, Eastern European countries such as Poland and Russia, along with India and so many other places, has caused there to be a very noticeable uptick in anxiety and predictions of a “dark winter” which is meant to be descriptive of potential sickness, isolation, and overall despair.
This gets down into the very nitty-gritty of our lives when our own state Health Secretary cannot mandate but strongly encourages us to celebrate the “holidays,” (Halloween? Is that a holiday?) Thanksgiving, and even Christmas and New Year’s with our own nuclear family and no one else. I watched her make the announcement.
This theme of darkness is woven throughout most of the campaign rhetoric for our national election and even some state and local races. Somehow, we are led to believe that the only way to be “safe” is to cut ourselves off from everyone else who might bring some companionship, some joy, some love, hope and laughter into our lives. May it never come down to something that we are no longer “allowed” to do!
I cannot help but contrast that with the message that I read about the life of Jesus. It says in John’s gospel 1:4, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.”
When one determines to see the “light” in every situation, it’s not a denial that darkness exists, but it is a statement that you will not let darkness consume your life or let it become the determining factor in what you do with your closest relationships and most cherished and even sacred relationships and values.
All of life carries a certain measure of risk. None of us will get into our cars today and drive somewhere without some risk of being involved in an accident or even injured unexpectedly and undeservedly by a careless driver or an unforeseen obstacle in the road, etc., etc. (This happened to one of my friends just yesterday.) However, the choice to take that risk in order to pursue some other desirable experience, relationship, or even necessary exchange such as a doctor’s visit, is something that we all cherish the right to decide.
Just yesterday, about 40 of us met for an hour of intercessory prayer for our nation and the upcoming elections, and though we practiced the “safety protocols” required by the state and encouraged by our church, we spent a glorious hour in prayer coming before the Light of Life and being encouraged to see that Light in the eyes of others and in the experience of God’s presence as we worshipped, read scripture and prayed for God’s will to be fulfilled as we’ve all been taught in the Lord’s Prayer (“thy kingdom come, thy will be done” Matthew 6:10).
As for the coming holidays (Halloween excepted), in over seven decades I’ve never spent Thanksgiving or Christmas totally isolated from my other family members. I don’t believe it makes good sense nor is it even medically defensible based on statistical evidence to stay away from people that you love and perhaps miss the opportunity to lift their spirits, create some memories together, to share expressions of love and perhaps even some intimate moments of reaffirming that the most important gifts that we have are literally “each other.” The nourishment to the core values of my being, my identity as a brother, father and grandfather to a few dozen people cannot be overcome by the darkness of fear that is being paraded before us on all levels of media on a daily basis.
Needless to say, the coming election throughout our nation has implications in this same dichotomy. I certainly understand that good people can see things differently but every one of us gets to chose who we believe best speaks for the Light of Life which the darkness has not been able to overcome. Let your light shine!