Is it me, or does it seem more than usual lately that our world is slipping into darkness? The news would certainly like us to believe so. Suffering both of the man-made and natural varieties rage around us: gun violence of epidemic proportions, devastating hurricanes and wildfires, political turmoil, white nationalism, disease, threats of nuclear war, mass extinction and environmental catastrophe at the hands of human industry and consumption… and a lack of humanity coming together to overcome any of these challenges. My God, but how is a Christian to remain hopeful and trusting in God’s goodness in such a time as this?
Yet that is precisely our call. As the body of Christ, our purpose is to bear Christ’s light in the midst of the darkness of the world. It is a practical light. It is to be a compassionate presence with those who are suffering. It is serving those in need in any way we can help. It is advocating (politically!) for justice for those who are oppressed, including (in our time) the poor, immigrants (regardless of status), women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, as well as for creation itself. It requires us to die to ourselves for the sake of the world. We need look no further than Christ on the cross to understand.
We worship a God who died on the cross – a symbol of death and suffering. The cross shows us the capacity of human wickedness and selfishness to try to snuff out the light of Christ. In reading the Gospels, I always imagine it to be a dark scene. Talk about despair and hopelessness. And yet that is precisely where we see Christ’s light shining fully – in the midst of suffering and dying – the Roman Centurion’s exclamation “truly this man is the Son of God!”
The darkness cannot overcome the light that is the love of God shining in our world, revealed in Christ, that we bear. It is an endless fountain of joy. It is a feast, a banquet table spread for us, even in the midst of our anxiety and hardship. It allows us to stand and raise our voices in songs of praise. We rejoice and in joy go out into the world to share this light in a world that is dying, lifting high the cross.
We have been created, loved, claimed, and raised up for this purpose. Even if the sun were to rise in the west tomorrow, our job is the same: to bear the light of Christ in the world, bringing hope, rejoicing, and proclaiming life and love every step of the way.