I grew up in Musical Theater. I loved singing, performing, dancing, but of course, the makeup and the costumes…oh the costumes, those were my favorite. I had the chance to do professional theater, community theater, and both high school and college theater as well. I loved the stories that were told, the characters I could become, and am, still to this day a sucker for an exuberant dance number. Ryan and I have already noticed this love of performance in both of our children, but most especially our 4 ½-year-old, Emmaline.
But one thing I disliked most was between the scenes when the stage lights were down and pieces of the set had to be rolled on or carried off and then the giant heavy backdrops were moved into place. This happened all under the cover of darkness, all while the orchestra played, and all as quiet and as invisible as we could be, as we changed the set for the next scene, for the next part of the story. This is most easily accomplished with glow in the dark tape that marked the spot of each piece of the set. Sometimes we would use flashlights and more than one time there were accidents and rolled over toes, especially in High School Theater. But, as they say, the show must go on and the pieces got moved into place in the dark and then we, the performers would move back to the wings and wait for the big reveal.
As much as God is a God of the light, God is very accustomed, even comfortable I would say with working in the dark. Think about the big moments of the Biblical narrative for a moment. Jacob wrestles with the angel all night long. The Exodus narrative and the freeing of the Israelites happened at night, Baby Jesus was born and the angels lite up the night sky, and many other examples remind us how good God is working and redeeming and putting the pieces into place IN THE DARK.
I know I just got here, and I will be learning the history of this church for a while; but if it is like every other church I have served or worked out over the last 20 years, there have been and will be some dark moments at this church, especially as we transition together. Maybe caused by this pandemic, or a change in leadership and vision, a struggle of finances or the pride of a few individuals. As followers of Jesus, living out our faith journey connected to the Church, there are moments of darkness and a lack of clarity. And when we don’t always see what God is doing in the dark, we might be tempted to lose hope if we can’t see it or understand it. Maybe we even grow weary and worn out as we wait, as we fumble around in the dark of our current situation.
And so Scriptures like this one from 1 Corinthians 13 bring me hope and remind me that especially in the hard moments of life and ministry there is more going on behind the scenes. The God of light sometimes does the best work in the dark and we get to participate in the big reveal as members of the Kingdom of God.
“Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. “For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 NRSV