How many of you can complete my title sentence? It’s from a Leonard Cohen piece called Anthem, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” The universe cracked open billions of years ago to let the light out. Just as we heard in our reading from Genesis, God said, “Let there be light and there was light… and God saw that the light was good.” Not perfect, but good.
And the writer of John’s gospel called Jesus the light of the world, present from the beginning of the world. Not as an exclusive statement, but as a statement of who Jesus was for him and his community.
The writers for both these scriptures were reminding their communities that there was something bigger and beyond the world in which they and we lived. And that no matter what the present circumstances, there is a way of finding the light.
In the midst of hurricanes, natural and man- made disasters, torrential flooding, it’s easy to despair. Along with the evenings getting shorter, darkness closing in earlier… those who are prone to depression in the winter, it’s so easy to forget about the light. It is so easy to become captivated and riveted by the bad news that is very real. I am not denying it.
For me in the midst of multiple migraines this week, and too much work, and some overheard grumbling about the transformations we are undergoing from how we make decisions to how the entryway is organized, it was easy for me to forget how much I love you and how many times I see the light of God here.
The light was very apparent Wednesday evening as the Executive dealt with a variety of decisions, with humour and patience and attention to our core values.
The light is very apparent, despite the grumbling that goes along with pie making, pie making that raises funds to enable ministry in this place.
The light is very apparent in Nine Mile River where the members are so faithful and determined to continue to be a presence to the community.
The light is very apparent … I see that the light is good… not perfect… 😉
In the midst of horrific happenings and threats, it’s easy to believe that we and the world with it are doomed.
Parker Palmer calls it living in the ‘tragic gap.’ This is what he has to say about that, “By the tragic gap I mean the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible — not because we wish it were so, but because we’ve seen it with our own eyes. For example, we see greed all around us, but we’ve also seen generosity. We hear a doctrine of radical individualism that says, “Everyone for him- or herself,” but we also know that people can come together in community and make common cause.
As you stand in the gap between reality and possibility, the temptation is to jump onto one side or the other. If you jump onto the side of too much hard reality, you can get stuck in corrosive cynicism. You game the economic system to get more than your share, and let the devil take the hindmost. If you jump onto the side of too much possibility, you can get caught up in irrelevant idealism. You float around in a dream state saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if . . . ?”
These two extremes sound very different, but they have the same impact on us: both take us out of the gap — and the gap is where all the action is. I call it “tragic” because it’s a gap that will never close; an inevitable flaw in the human condition. No one who has stood for high values — love, truth, justice — has died being able to declare victory, once and for all. If we embrace values like those, we need to find ways to stand in the gap for the long haul, and be prepared to die without having achieved our goals.” (http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/443/if_only_we_would_listen)
Listen to these stories of being light in the world.
During Hurricane Irma, there were three bakers who were stuck in the Mexican bakery they worked at. So they did what they knew they could do … they baked bread. Water was all around them, but their power was on and the bakery stayed dry. They used 4,400 pounds of flour. They baked for almost two days. When the owner arrived, he was amazed at what these three guys did, so all this bread got delivered to a number of shelters. They were being light in the world.
Then there’s the owner of a mattress store in Houston, Jim Mackinvale, who saw the waters and people seeking shelter, so he did the only thing he could, he opened his mattress showroom to hundreds of people needing a safe place.
He said in an interview “These are my people … black, red, white, it doesn’t matter these are my people. And I gotta help my people. I gotta be true to myself. Myself is about taking care of the community, and doing what I can in my own little way to help these people realize that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” His showroom is 60,000sq and he just opened the doors and said “come on in, make yourself at home. If you need anything, just let me know.” By opening his showroom, he is being light in the world.
Closer to home, Tee Murphy, who lost her home to a recent fire wrote this on East Hants Wants to Know, “I just want to continue to express my gratitude to all of those folks who have helped us since the fire and are continuing to help us now. The pouring in of condolences and well wishes and donated items to help us get through it have been overwhelming. We are living in a house literally a few hundred feet down the road from our farm after having stayed with my very dear friend for the first week. I continue to thank you all for all your love and support and I hope everyone knows just how much my daughter and I truly appreciate everything everyone has done for us.”
Many people, being the light in the world.
Leonard Cohen was familiar with both the light and the dark, familiar with the crack that is in everything… letting the light in.
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah
In all our days, can we like him, sing Hallelujah. Amen.
Genesis 1: 1-5, John 1: 1-5 September 24, 2017 – Gathering Service
Rev. Catherine MacDonald