“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:25-28
This time of year, here in Alaska, the sun doesn't rise early and heads back in all too soon. As we get to the shortest days of the year, the draw to hibernate, to hunker down and sleep, seems strong and insistent. It can seem like foreboding and some people can get very depressed by the lack of light. But it is also a most beautiful time, with crisp nights when the clouds scatter and the stars seem close enough to touch.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for the end times - the end of the ministry together as they have known it, but also the times when life changes dramatically and nothing old lingers to help us understand our way forward. They can interpret the days ahead as something to fear, or as something to welcome. When the earth shakes, when life is changed suddenly, when all the light is gone and darkness surrounds us, is is then when we should straighten up and know God is drawing near. God is not far off in our darkness but drawing near to us, surrounding us with love and life and bringing us beyond the trauma into new life.
Today, may I be brave and stand up and raise my head up when surrounded by darkness and despair. May we bravely face the coming changes of life knowing God is drawing near. May we see signs in the heavens as invitations to rejoice rather than fear. May we know that Emmanuel, God with us, is present in our deepest darkness today.