Der Vasken’s Sermon on October 22, 2023

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

As many of you know, about ten days ago a small group of us from this parish traveled to our ancestral homeland. One day, along a curb while we were waiting for our bus to pick us up in the City of Yerevan, I looked up and noticed a series of billboards attached to lampposts high above the streets near us. On each of these billboards were quotes from the Bible and one, in particular, caught my attention. It said, “You are the Light of the World.”

I have to tell you the words of that sign hit me instantly and forced me to think about why I was in Armenia. Was I there to simply enjoy the beautiful City of Yerevan? Yes, maybe that was a little bit true. Was I there to grow closer to the people I traveled with—probably also true. Was I there to meet new people? Yes and I’m glad I met some really wonderful people. But the main reason I was there and I shared this within the group many, many times was to be a witness to what was happening in our homeland.

The quote on that billboard drove home that point vividly and powerfully. Christ’s followers are the light of the world. It is His Light that we shine into this world and that, without His Light in our hearts, we have no light to shine. He is the Light. Jesus Christ is the Light.

As we climbed on to our bus, I thought about another quote that has spoken to my heart many times over the years. It is the quote that I began with from Martin Luther King, Jr. The quote says, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” This quote is a very basic teaching of the Christian faith. It’s a faith that says God wants the person He sees within us to help make our world a better place and fill our world with everything He values.

That is how Jesus looked at His disciples and that is how He looks at us. He looks at us and He sees His children. He looks at us and He sees His creation and when He looks at us, He places His Light within us so that we, who believe, go out and shine it into our corner of the world and make the world a better place. We receive that Light by following Christ. Every day we are called to reflect that Light into the world.

We can do that by being bridge builders and peacemakers, by respecting marriage and family, by honoring and valuing life, by forgiving rather than holding on to grudges, by easing the burdens that others carry, helping where help is needed and serving others as He did. When we do these things, we shine His Light into our corner of the world and bring high honor to God.

So, as we leave here today, let’s take a moment to ask God to help us reflect Him through our lives and then ask Him to help us shine His Light into the darkness around us. The Light of God speaks for Him and it says that God is standing with us and that He cares for us. He can heal us, not just of physical illness but of spiritual illness as well, and that there is no wrong or problem or illness no “storm” in life too great for Him to handle. His Light powerfully proclaims this.

He knows that diseases and conflicts would be normal experiences in the lives of people. He knew that people would fact uncertainty and unimaginable challenges in their lives just like the displaced families of Artsakh are dealing with today. He also knew that His Light would carry them through it all and offer them hope and healing and peace of heart when they needed it most. That’s the message He wanted them to know.

So He said to His followers, “You are the light of the world. Let your light shine before others.” The time has arrived for the brokenhearted to experience healing, for the poor to hear some good news, for the oppressed to get out from under the thumb of those who oppress them, for the blind to see and for the mourners to be comforted. The Light of God can do that. If the Light of God can do those things, then everyone who carries His Light in their heart must do those things as well.

That’s why, as I mentioned last Sunday, our ministry in this parish will help shine His Light into the lives of the people forcibly removed from their homes in Artsakh. That’s why we are asking everyone4 who is with us today online or in person or receives our posts and newsletter to support our efforts through a clothing drive to ensure that the people of Artsakh know that as many people in this world, who wish darkness upon them, there are many more who can bring light into their lives.

Followers of Christ do not hide their light. They let it shine into the world. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”


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