Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Dark Night of the Soul


(Originally printed as an ecumenical column for The News Herald of Franklin, PA) 

Spring has sprung! The (Pennsylvania) earth is coming alive again! As Christians we are preparing for the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday—tomorrow), napping in the Garden of Gethsemane with Peter, James and John (tell the truth, you may have been sleeping as well), and preparing for that walk toward Calvary for the crucifixion of our Rabbouni—our teacher.

If you’re struggling to see the end of that story—struggling to see the light of Christ that is the great Alleluia of Easter morning, you are not alone. You are not alone. Spring has sprung? The earth is alive? Happy, happy, joy, joy? Is that workin’ for ya’?

For many folk in our community, there is no spring—no transformation—no renewal or restoration. There is a continuous sense of what John of the Cross, a 16th century mystic, referred to as the "dark night of the soul" —a spiritual crisis. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the famous line "In a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning.”

And you don’t have to be homeless, jobless, divorced, disabled, imprisoned, aggrieved, or depressed to understand.  You may have a roof over your head, relationship, health, freedom, and yet—there is still something amiss for you. You may have lost your faith—never had faith, lost your hope—never had hope. You may be one of the millions who are the walking wounded, the broken-hearted, the soul-sick.
                                                                                                                                       
Where are we to turn for healing? For wholeness? For reconciliation and restoration? For an experience of the transformative love of God? For perfect love? Jesus had His doubts, and where did He turn? (And prior to placing irate phone calls regarding that statement, please read the account of Jesus prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane—Jesus had His doubts.)

Jesus turned to God in prayer, because God is perfect love. God is restoration. God is transformation. God is healing for the broken-hearted and the walking wounded—the desperate and the lonely, the weary and the grieving. Considering the fact that Jesus had his doubts, why can’t you? I have mine—I have questions about God and the meaning of life and I turn to God in search of the answers.

Now God is everywhere, and that is true. However, I wouldn’t be doin’ right by God if I didn’t suggest you find yourselves a church where you can seek the answers, doubt, celebrate, weep, laugh, wrestle with Scripture, and become who God would have you be. Find a church where you belong—one committed to showing the light of Jesus Christ to all who experience that dark night of the soul. Find a church where there is welcome for the sinner; for me and for you.

Much like the long walk to Golgatha, your search may be painful and burdensome, but at the end there will be a community who loves you, who invites you to belong, and who proclaims the glory of the living, risen Christ! 

Join us in worship at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings as we strive to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as his disciples in all we do, growing more and more into people of faith, hope and love, nourished by God's Word and Sacraments.

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