Why can darkness seem scary? Is it, to state the obvious, the fact we can’t see? There is more than one way to interpret darkness.
Barbara Brown Taylor wrote a brilliant book entitled ‘Learning to walk in the dark’. In it she explores her own fear of darkness and challenges it. She also asks the question – Doesn’t God work in the dark too?
Maybe we just don’t know how to recognise it. I must confess that in the last week or so I have felt that it is pretty dark out there; literally, with the nights’ drawing in but also in other ways. Everywhere I seemed to turn it appeared dark; Uncertainty, death, Covid. But maybe I am just not accustomed or trained to look and to see God in the night-time.
Our faith tells us that our God will never leave or forsake us no matter if it is day or night, whether I sense his presence or not, he is there. Sometimes, perhaps there is a point to the darkness. When we can see where we are going we are sure footed, happy to make our own way in the world, to base our decisions on what we think is the right path. When it goes dark and we can’t see where we are heading maybe it is then that we stop to question where we are; have we gone the right way, did we miss a turn, maybe we should ask for help about now?
I’m sure I’m not alone in that when I was little I had a night light. Even now I like to sleep with the curtains open so I can have some light coming in! Light orientates us to where we are, in the darkness we can trip and lose our way. But being a little lost sometimes can be a good thing. Instead of merrily trotting along without really paying too much attention of where we are going we have to stop and take a rain check. Slow down and re-orientate ourselves. Darkness in terms of feeling lost and uncertain has a lot to teach us – ask the Israelites in the wilderness.
Maybe this is such a time.
In this season of Remembrance we honour the many millions who gave their lives for our freedom, who stepped into the unknown, into darkness, who mustered all their courage to fight for our way of life.
Remembrance is by no means only a soldier’s, a sailor’s, or an airman’s preserve. It encompasses all of us. It is the business of our loved ones, our families, our friends. Remembrance envelopes, enfolds and endures for our entire nation and all those who have served over the hundreds of years which have passed, to the present and for the future. Remembrance is timeless, it is boundless. It is bearable and it is unbearable. It is for the known; it is for the unknown. It is for ‘them over there’; it is for all of us. It is national; it is personal.
So we are invited today to contemplate at least two things. First, sadness, sympathy and respect for those who are directly scarred or involved in the tragedy of war. Second, shame and horror for what we have done to one another.
Simultaneously, we are called to be co-workers with God in the building of his kingdom on earth. Through our activities, concrete and creative, we set about to change the patterns of this world that have made, and perhaps still make, hatred and resentment, poverty and unemployment, war and death. We should not just pray for the coming of the kingdom of God and contemplate the implications of its arrival – but actually take a significant part in the preparation of its foundation.
Today we place our thoughts for those we have known and those we have not known, who have given either their lives, or given away the straightness of their limbs, in the service of our country; those who have done so in years past, those who do it now, and those who shall do it again in the years ahead.
For our servicemen and women of our United Kingdom, alongside all those of all faiths of our Commonwealth of Nations, and our Gurkhas – on this day of Remembrance – we thank God….