Being in the midst of a sermon series titled “a people of light in a world of darkness” took on added meaning for our church over the past week as Hurricane Hermine left most of our community without electricity for several days. In our own home, I was reminded of the power to illuminate that even a single candle can have in an otherwise dark room. Just as Jesus instructed us in Matthew 5:14-16, you have let your light shine during these difficult days. I’ve seen numerous examples within our church of timely help removing fallen trees and debris, calling to check on vulnerable members, opening homes to those needing a place to stay, and even just offering a respite from the heat with some much-appreciated air conditioning.
As I shared Sunday morning (via Facebook Live), our campus may have been without electricity, but the church was never without power. Darkened buildings and houses are no indication of the power present within the church — within you! Jesus told his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Regardless of our circumstances, the Holy Spirit empowers each of us to be witnesses for Jesus and shine our light.
One of the most profound opportunities for doing so is whenever our community or our country experiences a tragedy. This Sunday will mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I trust that most of you can vividly recall where you were as that day’s terrible events unfolded. As we as a nation look back at the deadliest terrorist attack in history, many will once again be led to ask a simple question: Why? Not just why did this atrocity take place, but why did God let it happen?
This Sunday, we will wrestle with this very question as we also commemorate another seemingly inexplicable act of evil — Jesus’ crucifixion — when we observe the Lord’s Supper. In so doing, we can begin to see God’s purposes within tragedy and offer enduring hope to a world that is so easily overcome by despair.