Sunday's sermon on the Gospel lesson from John 9:1-38
Christ is risen!
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
Our TV is in the basement, for many convenient reasons. And we like to have family movie nights, which happens almost every other night during the quarantine. One evening, as we finished the movie and started going up, I happened to be the last to leave, and whoever was in front of me shut the lights off just as I was about to go on the stairs.
And the sudden darkness scared me a little, because it was a complete darkness, it was almost as if I could not feel myself. Usually I could walk up and down those stairs with my eyes closed without a problem, but in that absolute darkness I froze for a moment, afraid to take a step, being unsure whether the next step was even there.
Darkness has always been menacing. Darkness has always been related to evil. Monsters always hide in darkness, not in sunlight. In the ancient days darkness and night were associated with rest, but also with danger and with death.
And so when we hear Jesus say, “I must work the works of Him Who sent me while it is day,” because “night is coming when no one can work,” His disciples must have trembled. Night is coming. Nobody works at night because it is dark, nobody works at night because it is dangerous.
But, as Christ also says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” And how long is He in the world? For as long as we know Him. And no, God does not cease to exist if we forget Him.
Saint John Chrysostom says that while people believe in God, it is still day, He still does His works. Night comes when there is no longer faith, no labors, no repentance, no humility, when we do no work because of the general uncertainty of darkness.
One virus has sent our technologically advanced humanity into a mayhem. In some ways, today feels like darkness because we are not certain of many things, we are unsure of taking the next step because there may or may not be something to catch our foot as we step down. We may or may not return to normal, however we define normal. Our freedoms may or may not be restored.
Even if we might be going through some dark times right now, this does not necessarily mean that we have forgotten God. Even though most of the churches are either closed or severely limited in worship services, this is not yet complete darkness. If we are honest with ourselves, maybe we were not doing such a good job of remembering and knowing God even before the virus.
All this pandemic and the subsequent quarantine have revealed is ourselves – who we really are individually and as a group, be it a family, community, city, or a country. And we are sometimes very resilient and faithful, but also at other times scared.
Scared of the darkness. We do not do well when we are scared because we become completely vulnerable.
Paul and Silas, as we heard in today’s Epistle reading, were also completely helpless. They were arrested, their feet were put in stocks, where their legs were stretched to a point of agony, and they were thrown into a prison.
And then at midnight – the deepest and darkest part of the night, and perhaps the darkest part of their life up to that point, Paul and Silas … were praying and singing hymns to God.
Yes, they were apostles, but did they really have to sing and pray at night? Yes, we are restricted with where we can go and what we can’t do, but let’s focus on what we can do.
I believe that Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns because in the darkest moments that’s what a Christian does – he remembers God. Praying and praising God is not one of the options in such times, it is the only option.
In all of this, as long as Christ is in the world, as long as there is faith, Christian charity, repentance, humility, He is the light of the world.
The Epistle also says that the other prisoners listened to Paul and Silas praying and singing. They were astonished and mesmerized by the apostles’ perseverance.
In some way, we are also imprisoned by the current pandemic. We are bound in stocks at midnight. What hymns, what songs will our actions and behavior pray and sing so that we would remember God in all of this, so that even our neighbors will listen?
In the darkest moments we always focus on the light. Even if it is hard to see the light, we know the Light. We are partakers of the Light, we are part Christ. This cannot be taken away from us.
As long as Christ is in the world, so long will we pray and sing hymns to Him with our mouth, our heart, our hands, our feet, with our whole being because that’s what we do. And the Lord will remain the light of the world.
May the risen Lord continue to enlighten us and lead us through this midnight of our life to His eternal light.
Christ is risen!