…You stepped down into darkness.
That is the song that has been running through my mind this whole Easter week. Last Sunday, some people in my church performed a dance skit to this song (by Tim Hughes), which moved me powerfully and left me in tears for much of the day. The dancers lay collapsed, weeping over the body of Jesus taken down from the cross, while choir members and youth went throughout the church stripping it of all of its finery–the flowers, the banners, the candles–and covering the alter and communion table with black cloth.
As I left church, the CD that was playing in my car was the book of Ecclesiastes, the dramatized reading on The Bible Experience. Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Riches, wisdom and love. All the pleasures we can gather for ourselves–enjoy them while we can, but in the end, nothing is new under the sun, nothing goes with us to the grave (and those we leave it to, who knows what they will do with it). And in the end, it is all a chasing after the wind. Eat and drink. Treasure companionship. But, still, sorrow and pain and warring is always there with the joy and pleasure and peace. Meaningless chasing after the wind, without satisfaction or fulfillment.
Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness.
And so I wept. Feeling the weight of the darkness, of my own pain, of the suffering of so many I know specifically, and others I know only as numbers, here and in other countries–victims of war and violence and devastating physical afflictions. The lonely. The hurting. The questioning. The desperate. The overwhelmed. The broken. Jesus came, Jesus died. Did it make a difference? Why has the Light not obliterated the darkness?
But Jesus is not a cosmic Star Wars character, on the side of the light, come to fight the darkness with the hope that good will always win over bad, the light side over the dark side.
Jesus stepped INTO the darkness. This darkness. The meaninglessness. The little pleasures we allow ourselves to try to make life more bearable. Jesus stepped into the darkness. I cried, listening to Ecclesiastes and thinking about the world that Jesus stepped into. My world. The world where there is nothing new under the sun, even with all the technological advances and knowledge and everything. Still, the pain and the sorrow, the chasing after relief. The darkness is heavy. But Jesus stepped into the darkness. And the darkness could not overcome the light of the world.
I want that to mean that there is no more darkness. But that’s not how or why he stepped into our darkness. He stepped into this place with us. God with us, Immanuel. Here in the darkness with us. Not as another weak, blind person fighting the dark. He most certainly changed everything (and the darkness indeed could not overcome him as it threatens to overcome me. But, now, he is with me.)
He is here with me. He died for me, here in the darkness. He overcame sin and death. So that, even while I live on this earth where I still see sin and death, it’s not the same.
Remember your creator in the days of your youth. Yes, Lord, I am still surrounded by darkness. Sometimes it seems the heavy half of “there is a time for everything” is going to consume me. But, I am looking to you.
Oh, Lord, Jesus, Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness. The darkness still weighs on me, but in it, I am free. I am with you, God With Us. And you opened my eyes, let me see.
This Holy Week, I’m so glad for these days of feeling the weight of the darkness, the suffering, the pain. To rejoice too quickly in the resurrection as I’ve done in the past, lessens the impact of (1) How dark the darkness is that Jesus stepped in to (2) How great His suffering was, almighty, all powerful God stepping down into this dark world, sharing our pain, carrying our burdens, bearing our sin and all the resultant complicated pains from that and (3) How great His victory in and over the darkness really is. If the darkness is not that big of a deal, what does it matter that he stepped down into darkness?
Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness,
Opened my eyes let me see,
Beauty that made this heart adore you,
Hope of a life spent with you.
So, here I am to worship,
here I am to bow down,
here I am to say that you’re my God.
You’re all together lovely,
all together worthy
all together wonderful to me.
And I’ll never know how much it cost
to bear my sin upon that cross;
I’ll never know how much it cost
to bear my sin upon that cross….
Here I am to worship, feeling the weight of the darkness, the suffering, the pain, bowing down in worship and relief and awe and gratefulness, not able to comprehend what it cost for Jesus to willingly step into the suffering I’d so willingly step out of.
Oh, Light of the world, you came into my darkness. You opened my eyes. Who can see in the dark? But now I can. It is still dark here, but you opened my eyes. You made me see!!!!! The darkness can’t keep me blind and hopeless. You are with me. I can see. I can see you. I have hope. It is oh so dark and threatening, and I am still afraid. But you are here with me and the darkness cannot destroy me. I still weep at all that I see (as well as all that I don’t see and cannot comprehend or make sense of), but you are with me in the weeping. You have opened my eyes and filled my heart with beauty and with hope. And, even with all my tears and the weight and the grief, truly I can never know or comprehend how much it cost you.
Thank you Lord. Tomorrow I’ll rejoice in some of what I can comprehend about the victory of the resurrection. But today, at the end of this week, I sit and weep with a heart mixed with heaviness and joy, weeping and rejoicing, that you stepped into the darkness, here with us. And we are not alone in the darkness. You know. You understand. You have felt and, indeed, carried our pain.
Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness.
Thank you, Lord. I worship you with a grieving and joyfully grateful heart.
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