“Light, Darkness and Sin” Let’s pray… Rev. Stuart C.Buisch
Light and darkness. I have lived where the sunlight stops around 11pm and the dawn arrives 3 or four am in the summer and in the winter on a dreich day it seems dark til 9 am and dark again around three pm. What an adjustment for those of us who like the light. Light inspires us, think about a sunrise or a sunset. Think of the shine on the trees as the new leaves still in their lime-colored hue reflecting that bright sun.
Darkness on the other hand can be creepy. Walking down a long windowless hallway and opening a door where all the heavy curtains are closed the darkness can be heavy and so unpredictable. On a dark night a root on the path can catch your foot or a toy left by a child or pet can put an end to that healthy leg or foot or ankle you used to have.
Wouldn’t it be nice if sin was an easier concept than light and darkness? All of us have been raised to not use certain words. Words forbidden in one house are commonly used in another. Activities that the Victorians couldn’t imagine happening in front of children are happening today. Those same Victorians would no doubt come unglued to imagine what some small children see in the privacy of their own homes not only on the internet. On the other hand, behind closed doors all manner of things could go on as long as no one saw.
I think it could be fair to say that I have scratched the surface of light, darkness and sin in our understanding. As Presbyterians we say the Bible has an authority in our lives. Let’s see what John tells his congregation about these words.
God is. There are many words that we could put after the is but John in this moment says light. He will say other words later in the book. There is no darkness in God. Does that mean no fear, no uncertainty, full transparency? While his listeners are pondering those words, John beats the way to Victorian thought about what is seen or not seen. If we live in darkness, we don’t have fellowship with God, we are not communicating with God. We are not comfortable with God. God is seen, see-able, transparent albeit God. So, our lives in God require the visibilty of light. That which we would not do in the front yard won’t be fellowship with God.
Living in the light means living with and in God and builds a capacity to live with others, commune with others, be in fellowship with others oh and by the way, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
Hiding our sin in the darkness doesn’t produce forgiveness. Recently I was working in a mental health crisis where the patient repeatedly cried out, I am not forgiven while crying their eyes out. Living in the light offers forgiveness from every sin. Wow amazing language. Freedom from sin. John’s congregation had ‘those who had no sin’ and those who had ‘never sinned’. Both of these are engaged in lies, falsehood, no truth.
Simply coming into the light and saying our sins, engages God in the divine action of forgiveness and cleansing from God’s point of view. Curiously, John doesn’t discuss forgiving ourselves. Perhaps he knew or believed that with God’s light on our side we could let that light extinguish the darkness and fear within and set us free to forgiveness, even within ourselves.
One more detail need not be missed. The ‘never sinners’ make God a liar and God’s word is not in them. But God’s word can be in us, along with God’s light.
This part of John’s letter begins with light and ends with forgiveness and God’s word in us.
We are inclined to think of sin in terms of actions, perhaps not exclusively. John doesn’t seem to be fully on that page. John writes, cleanses us from every sin. We could spill lots of ink speculating about the list of every sin but John seems to be focused elsewhere. Living in the light, fellowship with each other prepares us for forgiveness, belief in a God who cleanses. God desires us to see life in the light. God desires us to not be locked into the darkness and the things that hide so nicely in dark. We can believe that God’s nature in the light is forgiveness and in such light we can be in fellowship with God and each other. But believing is essential. God believes and dwells in the light. Remember the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. Two lights that led God’s children to freedom. Following those lights required believing that God was in them and was working for those watching.
John is pretty clear the ‘no sin’ and ‘never sin’ folk are drowning in their own darkness, lies and sin while the cleansing power of forgiveness is right where you need it. Can we believe this for ourselves, can we believe it enough to tell others how to get forgiveness?
In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Life Sustainer, Amen.
God of angel armies, help us to sense your glorious presence…
Savior from sin, source of faith, help us to be open to you…
Spirit of God, breeze at our backs…