Friday, January 27, 2017

True Sadness

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

At our text study this week, we talked, prayed and discussed the beatitudes.  While we entered into conversation about Matthew 5:1-12 we spent some time focusing on blessed are those who mourn.  We wondered what grief we all carry.  I wonder if it is a deep longing for all to know the love of God in Christ Jesus, or a deep longing for there to be peace and justice in our country and our world, or a deep longing for hate speech and anger to subside so that people may talk with one another about very divisive issues.  

We are in the season of epiphany...a season of light.  One of the things I realized (post text study) is that the light that shines in the darkness not only reveals the presence of Christ in our midst, but it also shines on the sin and darkness in our world.  The brighter Christ's light shines, the more we see the sin and brokenness in our world, and it drives us to the cross, the place where death and sin are conquered, not by our doing, but through the actions of God.  

We didn't talk about this text, but I started thinking about this passage from Romans:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23)

What if it's not only we who are crying out, longing for a world of peace and hope and forgiveness and love.  What if all of creation groans and longs with us?  

We are just lifting the voices of all who cry out in the world.  

My new favorite song speaks, too, to this text and idea.  (My mind works in mysterious ways.)  First of all, my new favorite band is The Avett Brothers.  I know, just catching on...if you're a long time fan, let me know your favorites.  But what drew me in was the song, True Sadness.  Go ahead, give it a listen here. What caught my attention in a restaurant and on the radio was the upbeat tune.  It took me a while to wrap my mind around the chorus and title being True Sadness.  It doesn't sound like a song about sadness, but it speaks to the deep longing, it speaks to our ability to cover our sadness with layers and layers of joy or imitation joy, but the sadness is still there.  

The chorus is:
"But I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers
and you will find
True sadness"

I think it speaks to this deep longing, to creation crying out and groaning for the revealing of the children of God.  I think it speaks to blessed are those who mourn...because mourning, crying out, and longing for peace and justice and for the children of God to be revealed is something we will all cry out for until we are all gathered together in the Kingdom of God.  

The first verse talks about someone else shining light on the darkness...

The final verse, I think, lifts up the fact that we are simultaneously sinner and saint (a very Lutheran thing).  

"I cannot go on with this evil inside me
I step our my front door and I feel it surround me
Just know the Kingdom of God is within you
Even though the battle is bound to continue"

For me...that evil inside me, that battle continuing is our continual need for the cross, and the presence of Christ in our lives and our world.  That we can't conquer sin alone.  That we can't banish the darkness with our own good deeds.  But by the grace of God we are able to let Christ's light shine through us and around us.  And may that light continue to baffle the darkness in our world.  May that light illuminate our world as a sign of hope and peace.  

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