While It Was Still Dark

April 13, 2017
“Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark ...”   (John 20:1)

“While it was still dark,” Mary stumbles in the darkness of not yet day through tears of pain, anxiety, fear, and heartache. The one who’d loved and set her free appears to have suffered one final indignity at the hands of the forces of evil: His body, she believes, has been stolen.  However, “while it was still dark,” Mary is the first to discover a light that no darkness can ever overcome.

Martin Luther King Jr. says it this way: No midnight can last forever. Tony Campolo shares the truth of the resurrection light with a story of an old preacher in a preaching contest who uses these simple words to stir the hearts of an entire audience: “It’s Friday; Sunday’s coming!”

The risen Lord turns the world upside down, changes the course of human history, redeems all of creation, frees us from the law of sin and death, and destroys evil, injustice and oppression in all its appalling forms.   “While it was still dark,” right at the dawning of a new day, Jesus walks through the valley of the shadow of death and out of the dark tomb making real his words: “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” –John 11:25.

Therefore, Easter for me is the sure sign that the light of the risen Christ is always pushing against the darkness with the persistent force of the redemptive power of resurrection.  In this is our hope.  But what does the light look and feel like, and why does it still feel so dark?

The light looks and feels like the renewing waters of baptism, dying and rising with Christ, who grants us the courage, freedom, and power to push back against the darkness by resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.  The light looks and sounds like an invitation to the table where all are welcomed: “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sins, and seek to live in peace with one another.”

The light looks like “Glory Sightings” breaking out across the Kentucky and Red Bird Missionary Conferences. The light looks like “Fresh Expressions” bubbling up from the grassroots, seeking creative ways to share the good news of the gospel.  The light looks like 85 people traveling to Lumberton, North Carolina, sharing the road of help, healing, and hospitality with brothers and sisters traveling through the devastating darkness of loss and suffering caused by waters from the storm. The light looks like people willing to share in “Holy Conversation,” joining their voices in a call to prayer for the church, believing that somewhere in the none-anxious act of prayer God will speak a Word of light as we seek a “Way Forward.”

We learn to walk through the darkness as Easter people because in Jesus Christ we know again that “no midnight can last forever,” and we pray that belief in our Baptismal Covenant’s prayer of Thanksgiving Over the Water: “Eternal God:  When nothing existed but chaos, you swept across the dark waters and brought forth light.”  We as Easter people believe that “while it is still dark,” while chaos seems to reign, God speaks in the risen Christ a Word against the darkness that is so powerful that death, sin, oppression, and evil cannot diminish its light.  While it is still dark, the brilliant light of the Risen Christ is morning leaning into the dawning of a new day.  In Jesus Christ there is light enough.  “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!!!!”

                                                  Light Enough
                                Light bright enough to delight souls
                                With a slight glimmer of hope pushing
                                Back darkness.
                               Resurrection light overcoming the pall
                               Of all fears, anxiety tears that would
                               Obstruct God’s call.
                               Light enough to pierce the “dark soul.”
                              God cares enough to share the
                               Light of a Risen Son.
                                                                             By Leonard Fairley
Christ is Risen Indeed,
Bishop Fairley