Year B Lent 4 John 3
Looking at the World through the Eyes of God
The Ancient World of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Hellenism, Rome, Persia, India, and East Asia was filled with the ignorance of hundreds of thousands of gods, magic, rituals, superstitions, human sacrifice, conquests, sewage(refuse was mostly thrown into the streets for the rats and dogs), disease (priests attempted to foretell the course of a disease by examining the livers of sacrificed animals). And the list doesn't end there: ethnic bigotry, civil wars, persecutions, despots, tyrants, class rule, and the systematic murders of tens of thousands.
The Middle Ages of Persia, Constantinople, Islam, Britain, China, India, Genghis Khan and the Mongols, Timur and the Turks, Europe, African Empires and the Americas. All of them covered in the darkness of man's inhumanity to man: Revolutions, expansionism, Mohammad's Conquest and Christianity's Crusades, warlords, heretics, witchcraft, increased trade bringing death and plagues to millions, and the crowding in the cities spreading the misery all the more. And on top of this misery wars fought for every ridiculous reason known to man.
The Enlightenment and the Modern world also have faired no better. We too have loved the darkness instead of the light. Europe, Africa, Mid-East, India, and the Americas have all dipped their finger into the cesspool of sin: Guns, germs, slavery, the need for women's suffrage, massacres, socialism, resistance to democracy, religious fundamentalism's resistance to progress, Fascism, Communism, The Holocaust, the Ku Klux Klan, greed, the market crash, The Depression, world wars, The Bomb, terrorism, the crisis in Africa.
I can't tell you what a short list this is. And this says nothing of the millions of women and children who have suffered throughout the ages at the hands of ruthless men. There is no way to write that history because it is hidden from the pages of history.
Yes! Men have loved darkness rather than light. There is a morbid destructive tendency in all of us. We dabble in the diabolical. We revel in revenge. And we hate in our hearts. My, how we love to live in the shadows! What must God think of us?
Here is his verdict, as true today as it was when it was pronounced 2000 years ago: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil. This is Jesus' description of mankind. And can any of us argue with him?
For a few moments let's look at the world through the eyes of God. What does he see? He sees that....
- There are those who acknowledge not the darkness.
- There are those who acknowledge the darkness.
- There are those who acknowledge their need for forgiveness.
The Darkness of a Youniverse
Of all the bad ideas that have come out of highly centralized government, one of the worst "bad ideas" has got to be Daylight Savings Time. Benjamin Franklin originally came up with this idea of a "Daylight Savings Time" in the first part of March. It may have been the dumbest idea of his brilliant mind. But it was Woodrow Wilson who implemented Franklin's suggestion in 1918.
After just barely beginning to be able to see to eat breakfast, for the past three weeks we have been plunged back into rising in blackness, driving kids to schools with the headlights on, and eating the first meal of the "day" by moonlight. With all the houselights burning, the furnace blazing, and moods plummeting, it is hard to envision anything being "saved" by this "Daylight Savings Time."
The farmers of southern Indiana had it right until 2006: ignore it; ignore DST. Get up with the sun. That's what the all earth's other non-nocturnal creatures do. Now the state of Indiana has joined everyone else in observing this bad idea. Here's to the only two hold-outs--Arizona and Hawaii.
This loss of light, however, coupled with some Lenten reading, has brought a new appreciation for the second-to-the-last "plague" that hit ancient Egypt. Do you remember that story of the 10 plagues? Thanks to Pharaoh's pride, and Moses' obedience to God, the ancients were inflicted with some pretty nasty-to-terrifying sets of experiences. Even today, with all our horror shows and apocalyptic movies, these plagues send chills up the spine when you think about them. Water turned to blood. Swarms of frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts. Blistering boils. Dying cattle, And of course the final tragedy, the death of all the first born -- unless protected by a blood-painted portal so that the angel of the Lord would "pass over" your household.
But there is one plague that stands out as strange, almost benign, to our twenty-first century sensibilities. That is the plague of "darkness." Why's so bad about darkness?
For those of us who grew up or still live in lands far from the equator, "darkness" is a big part of each year. Days of "night" are present for three to five months, depending on your latitude. So what's a little darkness?...