Readings: Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-20
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
There has been a quotation by C. S. Lewis from his essay “On Living in an Atomic Age”1 circulating on the web. Lewis examines the reasons for being anxious in the atomic age and what to do about it.
I was growing up then. I remember the discussions about nuclear proliferation around my faith community. We are experiencing the same kind of anxiety about the Covid-19 virus and its disruptive consequences.
Lewis points out that personal death has always been with us. Father Jason just conducted a funeral on Friday. Larry’s death has nothing to do with Covid:19. So our individual deaths is not what our discomfort is all about.
No, Lewis says, our anxiety is about the threat to civilization itself. The bomb could wipe everything out almost immediately.
For us, the coming apart of our lives may happen more slowly and we are likely to live through it all. What scares us is:
– The loss of employment or a business
– The loss of housing
– The breakdown of marriages and partnerships
– The emotional cost of ongoing isolation and extended separations
– The general coming apart of our economy
– Shortages becoming permanent rather than temporary.
Life could look very different in a month, two months, six months or a year from now.
So what is a Christian supposed to do?
You may have noticed that I extended our Second Lesson from Ephesians by a whopping 6 verses. In my Braille copy of this letter, The New King James Version divides Chapter 5 into several sections. The first 3 are instructive:
1. Walk in Love. You might know this as an offertory sentence from the Book of Common Prayer: “Walk in love as Christ loved us, and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.”
2. Walk in Light. The prescribed reading.
3. Walk in Wisdom. The section I added.
Father Jason opened our time together with the Kathleen Thomerson hymn: “I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light”. Although I have always liked this hymn, I have never taken it seriously until this week. It has seemed to me that it jumps around with snippets of scripture. I am always suspicious of theology that focuses so heavily on light and darkness. It can spin so quickly into racist-sounding language. “The good guys wear white hats,” and, by inference, the bad guys wear black ones.
But no, this is not what Thomerson is doing. She wants to walk as a child of the light and follow Jesus; look at Jesus; be with Jesus. And don’t we all?
Not a bad pricey or summary of our faith because walking as a child of the light involves two basic components:
1. Trusting Jesus.
2. Walking in the Way of Jesus.
Usually I focus on the first part: trusting Jesus. Today I am speaking on the second: walking or following Jesus.
The truth is you can’t do the following unless you trust the one who is leading.
In his psalm, David says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”2
Here is the bold assertion of trust. Notice that David says “comfort” not “protect”. We have no special immunity. We have the Holy Spirit as our comforter and defender. Make no mistake! We are as vulnerable as anyone else to Covid-19.
Another psalmist says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”3
Jesus is the Word and the Light of the World. With him we are children of the light and of God.
We are admonished to: “Be careful how you live” or as another translation puts it: “See that you walk circumspectly.”4 Circumspectly puts me in mind of the prophet Micah when he says, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God”5
But there’s more. There is the fruit of the Holy Spirit:
Against these there is no prohibition. Today’s lesson puts it this way: “for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.”7
My dear ones, this is who you all are: children of the light, children of God.
– You have blessed me with your fruit.
– You have blessed this community with your fruit.
– You will continue to bless all those with whom you interact with your fruit.
All this because Jesus is your light. And life As Kathleen Thomerson so beautifully puts it: The star of my life is Jesus.”
May the grace of the star of your life, our Savior Jesus Christ, the love of God and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you today and always.8