Scripture Focus: Psalm 105.23-28
23 Then Israel entered Egypt;
Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.
24 The Lord made his people very fruitful;
he made them too numerous for their foes,
25 whose hearts he turned to hate his people,
to conspire against his servants.
26 He sent Moses his servant,
and Aaron, whom he had chosen.
27 They performed his signs among them,
his wonders in the land of Ham.
28 He sent darkness and made the land dark—
for had they not rebelled against his words?
“Do you feel the shadows deepen? We do.” — “Is He Worthy” Andrew Peterson
Reflection: From Darkness to Light
By John Tillman
Psalm 105 tells Israel’s story of moving from light to darkness to light. Joseph goes from favored son to slave and prisoner, then rises to the bright pinnacle of power. Politics turns against Joseph’s immigrant family, and they are cast again into the pit of slavery. Into this darkness, prophets come to work wonders. They bring light to God’s people and darkness to their oppressors in both literal and spiritual ways.
Our planet cycles from light to darkness to light. In Autumn, when the United States “falls back” to Standard Time from Daylight Savings Time, social media floods with complaints. People bemoan how the early evening darkness affects their moods, children, pets, and time to do things after work. I try not to tell people they shouldn’t complain. But I do often point out that complaining about “falling back” is complaining about the world as it really is.
In the Northern Hemisphere, days slowly shorten following the summer solstice. Night has been creeping up on us most of the summer. Daylight Savings Time pretends to hold the darkness at bay with its gently deceptive trick of the clock. Falling back rips the bandaid off. DST’s deceptively late sunsets disappear. The growing darkness is suddenly more obvious.
In literal and spiritual ways, the world is darkening. Gently deceptive mantras such as “People are basically good” and “One’s environment causes evil, not one’s choices” try to put a bandaid on the darkness. We need the bandaid ripped off to recognize our need for illumination.
If people are basically good, why is teaching ethics hard? Isn’t “the environment” that causes evil in one person made from another’s evil choices? Evil is real. Darkness comes. We don’t have to live in denial about the darkness, but we also don’t have to despair.
Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent tells our story of going through darkness to light. As Advent starts, the darkness is deepening, but we smile, knowing dawn is approaching.
Advent is an anticipation of light entering darkness. God brought light and hope to Israel through Moses, Aaron, and other prophets. They burned imperfectly and briefly, like birthday candles down a well. They were only signs and examples of the one to come.
Jesus plunges himself into our well of darkness, bringing light that is perfect and unextinguishable. May the first dark well he illuminates be our hearts.
Music: “Is He Worthy” Andrew Peterson
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out. — Psalm 65.3
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
1 Chronicles 29 (Listen 5:50)
Psalms 105 (Listen 4:02)
This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 1 (Listen 2:47), Psalms 106 (Listen 4:52)
2 Chronicles 2 (Listen 3:41), Psalms 107 (Listen 4:12)
Read more about Renamed by God — Hope of Advent
We don’t have to continue in life with the haunting names that fit our histories. New names bring us new hope.
Read more about God In the Dark — Hope of Advent
The first picture of God…On the very first page of scripture…God hovers over dark, chaotic waters…enters creation’s darkness and sparks light and life.