Learning to Walk in the Dark: A Summer 2023 Preaching Series

    In 2014, Barbara Brown Taylor – an author, Episcopal priest, and professor who lives on a working farm in Georgia – wrote the book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. Taylor describes her book in this way:

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Darkness is shorthand for anything that scares me – either because I am sure I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and those I love. At least, I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life, plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

(Learning to Walk in the Dark (New York: Harper One, 2014)

Given a future that God is still forming in our midst, I thought this might be a good way to lean into what God is up to among us. The key here is this little nugget offered in the front flap of her book where the publishing house wrote, “…Taylor is our guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching us how to find God even in darkness and giving us a way to let darkness teach us what we need to know.” This kind of guidance is valuable as we imagine how we might be Church anew in this time and place. This kind of wisdom is welcome as we traverse our way “…by paths as yet untrodden….” We pray this each week. Through Taylor’s book, we prepare for God to “[g]ive us faith to go out with good courage….”

         From June 11, 2023- August 20, 2023, we will read the book a chapter at a time. On Sundays, the focus of the sermon and service will be a theme from the chapter for the week ahead. I will develop a schedule of biblical texts that correspond with each chapter of the book. These texts, along with each chapter, will form the theme for preaching. For this summer, we will again not follow the lectionary. We know this rhythm, as we recall the pattern we followed last summer using Rachel Held Evans’ book, Wholehearted Faith. As we focus our attention on this book over the summer, I invite you to gather a group of people together to both read the book and to discuss it – slowly, intentionally, and openly, the way a good book should be read over summer months. You can get the book through your favorite bookseller or library. If you wanted to hear the author read the book, you could find that on Audible or other such services.

         I invite you to join us this summer as we are formed and transformed around our focus on what God is up to in the dark. And, further, I invite you to join us because, together, we will hear God’s Word in this way, and receive nourishment for our hearts and souls through bread broken and wine outpoured, given and shed for you. We will be opened as we sing praises to God. We will be encouraged through our fellowship with one another. The Spirit will speak things to us that we need to hear. And through our time together, God will be present and at work in, with, for, and through us.

         I continue to be so grateful for you all, and for the ways I sense God present and at work in our life together. God is with you. God is with us. Always and forever. In June, we celebrate and begin the season of Pentecost, in which Christ’s Spirit breathes new life into the Church. Do not be afraid, dear people of God, and do not lose heart. The Spirit is breathing new life among us, even (and especially) now.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Lutter, Interim Pastor