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Send Out Your Light

Psalm 43 and For My People by Margaret Walker

June 19th, 2022


By Rev. Nicole M. Lamarche

Hello beautiful people, it’s good to be here with all of you today, however you are gathering!

As we make space to tune into whatever word God has for us today, whatever that might be, I invite you to join me now with a few deep breaths, tuning into the birdsongs and our heartbeats and the gift of being here together like this. Gracious God may the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

O send out your light and truth…

It is a plea, in a series of petitions, from what some have described as a writer with a spiritual depression.

And as we heard, this poet is longing for God, thirsting for God, pleading to see God’s face.

It’s such a sad series of days, such a crushing time that we read that for the poet, their tears have become food. And they say to God,

“Why have you forgotten me?”

“defend my cause!”

“deliver me!”

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me!

Do you know those days where it seems like there is a distance between us and the Divine? I know I do. Those times where we wonder if maybe God has forgotten us? Those days where most of what we have for the Holy is questions, wondering, worry… It can be bleak.

Psalm 42 and 43 put together have what one scholar described as, “haunting imagery” with deer panting, desperate for flowing streams, in a drought that’s an image we might connect to, it’s a longing.... The Psalmist cries out, “Why must I walk about mournfully?”

O send out your light and your truth God!

I have sensed for a while that many of you are quite sad, maybe like the ancient Psalmist, the true diagnosis for us collectively is something like a spiritual depression, from all we have endured and seen and survived, from all that has been unveiled and is still being revealed.

It has always been a part of my ministry to be a part of creating safe, brave spaces for people to unburden from worry, from fear, sadness, but over this year, I have noticed an increase in the number of people who need a sacred space to come and just cry. Many of you have come to my office this year to weep. And I wonder who else might need that? Who else here might need a good long cry?

Over the course of these two Psalms, the author repeats one stanza three times and maybe you noticed it?

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God, for I shall again praise God,

my help and my God.

Right now I am not sure I can, but I hope at one point to praise God again.

I think that many of us find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by all of the hard things, that we could so easily assume it is Love that is missing, it is Light that is missing, or God who is missing. It can sure feel like that. It seems like there is too much noise, too many lies, too much refusal to see the truth.

But over this week, from what I saw and felt and encountered, I found myself wondering, what if that’s not true?

What if the problem is not that God’s light and truth have been dimmed, but that ours have?

Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness. Angry outbursts, irritability, frustration. Loss of interest or pleasure in small normal activities, sleep disturbances, I have heard many people describe these things as part of their life right now and I need to tell you these are all signs of depression. Here’s a note to say that if you are clinically depressed or wonder if you are, and need resources please reach out. We want to help you with whatever resources we can offer.

And when we are in states like spiritual depression, when we are walking around sad and down and mad, I have noticed in my own life that our vision can become clouded. So that mostly what we see in front of us is the bad and the hard. Has anyone else been in that situation? Where all you can see is what is wrong? And then we find ourselves in what I think of as the toilet bowl spiral where goodness is hard to see and then it is harder to see and then it’s harder to see and before you know it, you are down so deep you can’t see anything.

So this week, I am wondering if some of our lights have gotten so dim that we need to stop and tend to them?

Spiritually speaking, I think our inner lights have had a bit too much wind for a while, from the demands of the pandemic and the need to be a part of so many pivots and the call to respond to the pain of climate change and war and loss and the deaths of our beloveds and the insurrection and on the list could go…

What if the problem is not that God’s light and truth have been dimmed, but that ours have?

And so what if part of what we can do for ourselves and one another is to help rekindle our flames? To keep them flickering. What if part of the gift we can give one another is to help each other continue to shine, even when it seems like God itself is missing? What if we look to another to look up and find goodness, to find hope, to take actions that add light? What if part of the purpose of church right now is helping one another to keep our lights on, to see the goodness that might be a bit further out, to help one another in protecting the sometimes-fragile flames?

As you likely know, today is Juneteenth, which marks the reading, on June 19, 1865, of federal orders enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas. And the poem you heard by Margaret Walker was written about Juneteenth and is both a lamentation and an invitation to be a part of a new way of being together. It is truth telling and a story of dancing in a time where one could stay in deep mourning.

She wrote, “For my people lending their strength to the years, to the gone years and the now years and the maybe years,” As Todd Breyfogle wrote, “Memory is sometimes used to cloud or erase the truth. For Margaret Walker, memory is the light of truth shining on confusion, hypocrisy, and misunderstanding. Her memorial call is for both honesty and unity, confession and healing, a call to freedom for the future despite the slavery of the past.” She says, “Let a beauty full of healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing in our spirits and our blood” “Let a second/generation full of courage issue forth; let a people/loving freedom come to growth.”

I am sharing her story and her wondrous words today, on this Juneteenth, in this time when many lights are dim or need to be rekindled altogether, I wanted to tell you about her, in part because she was a light that kept on shining bright in a world that tried not to see her, in a world that tried to tell her there was no place for her, no space for her, but still she showed up bright and shed a light and said what needed to be said, “Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born!”

I wonder if it was being a part of her church that helped her to keep her light on. She was a preacher’s kid. Her dad was a Methodist minister. I wonder if that’s what helped to keep her light on, to keep sharing her light of truth shining on confusion, hypocrisy, and misunderstanding?

Beloved of God, what if the problem is not that God’s light and truth have been dimmed, but that ours have? And so what if we helped one another guard our flames? Not just for us, but for this body and for all of creation, for the light of truth that shines on confusion, for the light of love that dispels fear, for the gift of hope that keeps us aglow.

On Friday night, I had the privilege of dancing with thousands of others at Folsom Field for Dead and Company. It was an evening of dancing under the stars with friends and hearing loud music and seeing the mountains. I went down to wait in line for an overpriced drink and a woman came racing up to me. Her name was Tania and she said, “You are glowing!” Now I suspect she could have been on something which is part of what happens at Dead and Co., but I decided to roll with it. And she went on and I pondered sometimes maybe we need other people to reflect to us our own light, to help us keep our own light shining. And I want to invite all of you today to make a plan over the next weeks and months to schedule something that kindles your light. Maybe it’s not dancing under the stars with thousands, but I bet it’s something and for some of you maybe something you haven’t done for a while. So, I invite you now to turn to someone around you and to look at them and to say, “Let your light shine, send out your light!”

One of my visions for us is that we are a place and a people that rekindles lights and keeps our lights glowing. What if it’s our job to help one another keep the lights on? To keep the flame of hope alive, to tend to an important inner light so we can keep showing up to be God’s hands and feet and faces in the world? Know that God’s light and God’s truth are already here and have never left us, let us keep our flames flickering! May it be so. Amen.

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