Sunset, Sunrise, a brand new day
This sermon was given by Rev John Rackley on 30th August at our first service with social distancing regulations and is posted here as many people are still unable or uncertain about coming to church services.
Scripture Readings Psalm 113; Genesis 1:1-5; Luke 23:50 – 24:5
We have lived and are living through a time of much unpredictability when it has been difficult to believe anything will be the same again. The truth is – it won’t be. The time has not yet arrived when we can reach for conclusions or say we have arrived at final solutions.
For many people this means we are living through a swirl of feelings – disorientation, anxiety, fatigue, uncertainty, irritation, guilt.
I have been on to the web site of Richard Rohr who runs the Centre for Contemplation and Action in the USA and came across this comment of his:
‘we usually think of change at the start of something new but it usually happens when something old falls apart not when something new occurs’.
I found this helpful because COVID-19 does mean that the old ways no longer can hold sway. However much we long to get back to normal, we won’t get there. It is over and change is happening because the old is collapsing. We have to look at what is happening in another way.
This is why I gave the theme of this sermon as SUNSET, SUNRISE – a brand new day. It’s the biblical way of looking at the passage of time.
We read in Genesis that ‘there was evening and there was morning, the first day’ .
The biblical day starts at sunset….it begins with darkness. We see it the other way but I find this very helpful. Whilst I rest God is still at work. Light arrives out of the darkness. Just as we are born out of the darkness of the womb and the seed emerges from the darkness of the soil. Life in the darkness is drawn toward the light.
All the gospel writers describe the journey of the women to the tomb of Jesus in the ‘early dawn’.
His resurrection emerged from the grave. They carried spices to enshrine the dead but that is not the way of creation or re-creation.
The liturgy of the Iona Community declares ‘Christians have always celebrated the fact that it was a burial place that the resurrection faith began. It is often in places of death and apparent hopelessness that new beginnings are given to us by God’.
Eddie Askew writes in his book Edge of Daylight
“The poet Andrew motion says the gift of daylight is temporary, its end inevitable. ‘Darkness takes the edge of daylight’. But it is the darkness that is temporary. We travel as pilgrims from the little light we have through the darkness into a greater light than we can imagine. That will be the last and greatest adventure of all as we drawn into the splendour of the full light of God.”
In other words we are always travelling toward the light.