Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pulled Into the Light

Our Youth Group had a 30 hour famine from Friday to Saturday. 12 Youth participated and learned about hunger and the poor.

This morning we hear two stories of faith.
One of Abram being called away from his home into the future that God has promised.
The other of Nicodemus who comes to Jesus searching for answers, for something more, and for what God has in store.
Neither man knows the outcome, or is sure as to why God is moving in a certain direction in their lives.
Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, by the cover of darkness.
It is significant in John’s Gospel because everything is moving towards the light.
Everything is moving towards Jesus as the one who shines light into the darkness of the world.
But Nicodemus is not sure, he has questions he needs answers.
But Nicodemus comes anyway.
And his questions are not answered in the way he would have expected.
A lot of times we are like Nicodemus.
We are in the dark, wondering, searching for something.
We have questions about our faith.
We have questions about the power of that faith to change lives and about God’s power to work in our lives.

Lately we all have had many reasons to ask questions and wonder.
I was at the hospital this week and I was on the elevator.
A woman was riding with me and she sad, “Some earthquake in Japan…how about what is going on in Libya? My grandmother told me this is all in the Bible and everything is going to end!”
Not enough time on an elevator ride to get into it all, but my basic response was, “I believe it will all be all right…it is in God’s hands.”
In many ways this answer seems too easy.
However, as a person of faith it is the right answer.
Abraham didn’t know what the future held, but he placed that future into God’s hands.
Abraham believed that God cared and loved him and had some greater thing in store then he could imagine.

We too have to believe that the God who loved this world enough to send his only son for us will not let our lives go to ruin.
That God has a greater idea of what we need then we even know or imagine.
God is bigger than a tsunami, or the latest war, God is bigger than whatever situation we find ourselves in today.
I place my life in the hands of the God who has spent time building a relationship with me, God who has loved me all my life.

It is why things like the 30 hour famine are so important for our youth.
It gives them time to wrestle with some of the harder questions of life.
Why do some people have more than others?
Why would God allow people in the world to starve?
What does this mean to me and my faith?
The 30 hour famine was about making our way through the dark into the light.
From despair to hope.
From ignorance to understanding.
From resentment to mercy.

It is important to understand that the world is not always fair, and things don’t always have a happy ending, and not every problem is solved in an hour.
But it takes time and understanding.
The truth is that Nicodemus maybe still did not understand what Jesus was trying to tell him.
The power of Jesus’ statement is only understood after he gives his life for our sin and new life.
It maybe took more for Nicodemus to find his way out of the darkness into the light.
And for most of us, well I will just speak for myself, it takes time lots of time to work our way out of the darkness.
It takes a lifetime to be able to see that it is all in God’s hands, and that our job is to follow faithfully.
It takes a lifetime to understand the depths of God’s love for the world.
And that relationship is what protects us from giving up when something bad happens in our life.

Some people see an earthquake and people dying and think that it is proof that God either does not care, or that there is no God.
How could God allow such a thing to happen?
These are questions we ask in as we grope around in the dark trying to understand.
When we see the light of Jesus shining then we see things through faith.
We see things from above, and from God’s understanding.
We see that God loves this world that God wants to save us from ourselves.
Then the question becomes how can I help?
What can I do?

Seeing things from a worldly perceptive everything seems so dark, so lost.
That is exactly where God meets us in the dark, and brings us to the light.
It is where Jesus met Nicodemus.
Because Jesus wanted to help Nicodemus come to the light.
Faith in God brings us from the darkness to the light.
Perhaps St. Patrick whose day we celebrated this week said it best. "Whatever will come my way, whether good or bad, may I accept it calmly, and always give thanks to God, who has ever shown me how I should believe in God, unfailing and without end." St. Patrick

This morning all of us have come here with questions.
We are all wondering what God has in store for us, for our families, for our community, and for our world.
Here is the right place to ask the question, and grope in the dark for the light.
Because here we will see the light.
We will hear Jesus tell us that, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life.”
Here this morning Jesus will call you out of yourself to see others in the world suffering.
Jesus will call you from this earthly place to the eternal place.
Here Jesus will draw you from death to life, from despair into hope, from the darkness into the light.

This morning as we heard our young people share of their experience how can we not be moved to believe in God’s future?
12 young people gave up a Friday and Saturday to not eat, to raise money for the poor, and to be together.
Twelve young people were willing to search in the dark and to see the light.
What will be the thing that Jesus will do for you?

This week as you go about your life and grope in the dark for faith know that Jesus is there to pull you into the light.
Jesus is pulling you into the light so that you will see the love of God, your salvation, and the bright future that awaits you.

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