God lit a match!

November 19, 2010

Preaching at prison communion service

Luke 23:35-43

Colossians 1:12-20

  • Years ago, back in the 70s, we visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky
  • I’m not a real fan of caves, and I had no trouble, recently, empathizing with the miners in Chile
  • I remember not being able to stand up fully for long distances in that Kentucky cave
  • And when I’m prevented from standing up all the way,
  • guess what my greatest urge is …
  • To stand up!
  • At one point, however, we were in an immense room with a very high ceiling
  • We gathered around the tour guide who said, “Few of us have ever found ourselves in total darkness.”
  • He went on to say, “There is always some light coming from somewhere … you just have to wait for your eyes to adjust.”
  • “Now, however, you will experience total darkness, a complete absence of light.”
  • “I will turn out the lights in this room,” he informed us.
  • “When I have turned out the lights, try to see your hand in front of your face.”
  • He turned out the lights.
  • We stood there for quite a while.
  • He was right, it was really dark, I could see nothing … not a thing.
  • After several minutes, when our pupils must have been as big as an owl’s, he lit a match.
  • A single match!
  • Everything in the room was visible, all the people, even the high ceiling

  • In our second reading, Paul in his letter to the Colossians, says this, “He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
  • He delivered us from the power of darkness.
  • God lit a match!
  • By sending Jesus into our lives …
  • By sending Jesus to show us the way, God lit a match!
  • And with that match, we can see things we couldn’t see before.

  • Now, that isn’t true for all of us … is it?
  • Some of us are still trying to see our own hand in front of our face
  • We aren’t even aware, sometimes, that the match has been lit … the fire of the Holy Spirit
  • That the darkness has been dispelled by the one who said, “I am the light of the world.”
  • For us being transferred to the kingdom is a personal thing
  • Just because someone else sees the light, doesn’t mean I will, or you will

  • In the Gospel we have Luke’s story of Jesus’ time on the cross
  • In particular he tells us of the exchange between Jesus and the two criminals crucified with him
  • One of the criminals expected more of Jesus than he could deliver,  “… save yourself and us.” He reviled Jesus

  • In our Christology we want to remember that Jesus took on our humanity
  • Jesus could have no more come down from the cross than you or I could
  • But the other criminal expresses an understanding of what was happening
  • He asked Jesus for mercy
  • He asked the innocent victim on the cross next to him to remember him when he enters his kingdom
  • Jesus replied with the same promise he gives us
  • Acknowledge who he is and we’ll be transferred to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son

  • Gentlemen, we have at hand redemption and forgiveness
  • We are being delivered from the power of darkness
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