Service for 10.26.17
Brief Service of the Word
Reading: 1 John 1:5–10
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
This is the Word of the Lord. R.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
No, St. John was not a gnostic proclaiming the light and dark sides of the Force. There is no ying and yang here because in the God we meet in Jesus Christ there is no darkness at all. Only light. So in Revelation when John sees the fulfillment of all the promises of God shining before him in the new heavens and the new earth, he observes that there is no need for the light of sun or moon, for the glory of God gives the city its light, its lamp is the Lamb and "there will be no night there."
The message we have heard, John says, the message we were sent to proclaim to you is that simple: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. In saying that, he is not saying anything different than what he will write a few chapters later: "God IS love." He doesn't have love. He IS it. Love is the light and the glory that shines from Him being who He is, though He is beyond all being.
And there is no hearing the words of today's reading apart from the language of John's prolog: In Him, the Word who was in the beginning with God and who was God and through whom all things were made and who was made flesh, in Him was light and that light was the life of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has neither overcome nor understood it.
The light shines in the darkness. And by doing so, exposes what hides there. When you were little you went out in the backyard and flipped over that rock and exposed to the light of day the things that live in the darkness. They gave you the shivers! But you saw what they did: they crawled away as fast as they could. Back to the dark. Away from the light. And you have creepy crawlies in you. The things that shy away from the light. Things you've done and thought or failed to do, and they bring you shame. Even deeper, the truth that your doing reveals to you about who you are and what you want and what you love and enjoy. The stuff that you'd simple die of shame if someone knew.
But a light shines. And it exposes them all. In vivid relief. Like a spotlight or even an X-ray or mri. Exposes you all the way down, down to the core. And it exposes to do the most amazing thing. Not to condemn and damn. But to love. In Him there IS no darkness at all. He loves you. The real you. The you you want to run from and the you you try to hide from others. You. His light shines in Jesus all the way down. He loves you.
And the light shines to give you fellowship, communion, koinonia (probably hopeless to try and translate it) with Him. A share in the light. In the light that is love. This is what the cross of Jesus reveals: He doesn't hate you. From His cross, in the darkness, shines a light of love that the darkness could not overcome. A love so vast that it sets you to have the courage to speak the truth about the darkness in yourself. To stop walking in it, that is, to stop lying to yourself about yourself. To walk in the light and that means to let the blood of Jesus cleanse you (it's a present tense, ongoing) from all sin. The blood that is in the chalice for sinners. For you.
Speak the truth, then, not the lie. Not the self deception. Speak the truth about the sinner you are. About the company of sinners you belong to. And He will be faithful and just, and this is His faithful justice: He forgives you your sin, He cleanses you from all unrighteousness.
Not to believe that is serious business. It's to call Him a liar, as though there were darkness in Him. As though He were playing with you. He's not. In Him there is no darkness at all. None. In Him is nothing but shining and beautiful love reaching out from His cross to embrace you in the whole truth about you and there to blot out your sin with His blood and to be your righteousness, to be perfect love for you. And that gives you the courage to confess and face truth.
People loved by God, time to be done with the deeds of darkness. Time to stop pretending that there is a dark side to the force. Time to be done with the half-truths and lies, above all the half-truths and lies. No darkness is a match for His light. So you don't need to be afraid. He calls you, the real you, to Himself, into His fellowship. He gives us to each other, so that together we can walk as children of the light.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Hymn: 411 I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
Living God, eternal Father in heaven, we give You thanks for the multitude of Your tender mercies and Your loving-kindness, which have been from of old. We bless You for creating us for everlasting life, redeeming us in Your Son, Jesus Christ, from all sin and destruction, and calling us by Your Spirit to the knowledge of Your glory. O Lord, we are not worthy of the least of all the mercies and truth which You daily show us. It is of Your mercy that we are consumed, because Your compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Give us day by day an increasing sense of Your bountiful goodness so that drawn in love to You we may surrender and consecrate to You our own selves and all that we possess, to the glory of Your holy name. And as no unclean person shall stand in Your sight, blot out our transgressions by the merits of Jesus Christ, the Righteous, and grant us Your grace that we may not deceive ourselves and excuse our sin, but confess them and be cleansed of them. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Do not allow Your Word to return to You empty. Instruct both young and old in the truths of Your Gospel. Enlighten and sanctify all ministers of Your Word. Cause all hearers to receive that Word not only in the ears but in their hearts. Surround Your whole Christian Church with Your unending mercy. Stretch forth Your right hand and Your holy arm to prevent the evil one from disturbing Your children by his wicked plans. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Look with favor on all civil rulers and those under their authority, that they may faithfully discharge their duties according to Your will. Direct by Your Holy Spirit all who are invested with authority in our national and state governments, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, for the punishment of wickedness and for the maintenance of righteousness and order. Grant us peace, our daily bread, and deliver us from evil all our days. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
Have mercy on those still living in the darkness of unbelief, and bring them to know Your dear Son. You did not create man for vanity, so send faithful laborers into Your harvest and sustain those whom You have sent, particularly Pr. Fred Reinhardt serving in Burkina Faso, that they may proclaim Your truth with boldness. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
O faithful Father, we commend to Your care all Your children throughout the world who cry to You in suffering or illness, injury or injustice, especially Your servants Jean Carlos, Al, Amy, Joseph, Kylee, Allan and Jan. When You decide to try us in the furnace of affliction, comfort us anew, that we may behold Your glory and praise You. Lord, in Your mercy, R.
O Lord, we beg You, hear our prayer, and do not let our petition fail, for the sake of the perfect redemption and powerful intercession of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who also taught us to pray:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.