An historic peace church in the heart of Elgin

All Things New…

notes from Pastor Katie January, 2019

For the Love of the Dark

"The distinction between night and day is barely noticeable when you've got light switches," wrote says Valerie Blaine, Environmental Education manager for the Forest Preserve District of Kane County in a recent Daily Herald article. She went on to name the problems for wildlife when electronic lights dominate the night sky, including threatening disruptions in hibernation and migration patterns. 

Reading this article, I felt convicted about the ways I take electronic light for granted and wondered what effect the easy access to that light even during the lengthened nights of winter might have on us human animals, too. Maybe we could stand some hibernation in this season or at least some reckoning with the natural limitations of the season that we seem to have nearly obliterated with advances in technology and transportation. Are we working against our biology when we refuse to slow down despite the changing of the season? Why are we so quick to turn on the light? 

Barbara Brown Taylor in her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, warns about the limitations of "full solar Christianity," which equates everything light and white with goodness and everything dark and black with evil. Listening for this language in my own life, I began to hear it in the way Christians talk about our lives and even in my favorite passages of the Bible. I felt especially personally convicted when I realized the basis for racial prejudice such deeply ingrained theology can engender in us. 

So, I began to challenge myself to find new ways of expressing the difference Jesus makes in my life and the salvation I find for my soul that stop extolling the light at the expense of seeing the holiness in the dark. While I still love some of the imagery of Jesus and God being compared to light, I have found finding new images to be meaningfully expanding to my way of seeing and loving not only my human companions but the fullness of God's holy creation--both light and dark and every twilight in between! 

Though we don't sing it often, the very first hymn in our hymnal supplement does seek to rejoice in the holy gifts of the dark. Thank you for the night expresses gratitude for "the sign that day is done" and that "life is meant to rest and sleep to come." It gives thanks for the quiet that "scatters sound," for the holy wisdom found in the dark as "insight, open-eyed, replaces sight," and finally, for the night that is a "measure of [God's] care," proclaiming that in darkness as in light, God is surely there.  

In this darkest season of the year, how may we practice being thankful for the night? How may we embrace the gifts of this season? How may we practice new ways of speaking of God's love that offer us the opportunity to expand our own hearts and become more like Jesus who prayed in long dark hours at Gethsemane?

For myself, I think I'll turn in early on those precious nights when I can. Or, maybe one of these nights I'll stay up but not turn on the light at all. Perhaps instead I'll take some time to sit in the darkness with a cup of tea and watch for the holy presence of God who indeed is surely there.    


January Worship Schedule

Jan 6     Congregational Dialogue     Scripture: Genesis 28:  10-22

Join us this Sunday in Fellowship Hall for a non-traditional service, in which we will have the opportunity to talk with each other, examine the story of Jacob finding God in the wilderness, and maybe even build our own rock altar.   

Jan 13     Baptism Sunday     Scripture: Luke 3:  15-22
Sermon title:  We Belong      Presented by:  Pastor Katie         

This Sunday we will welcome the membership of Tracey Babula through transfer of letter and Dave Babula through baptism. Please join us to celebrate the Babula family making their connection to our community formal in the vows of membership, and to remember the ways in which we all belong as beloved children of God. 

Jan 20     Annual Worship Exchange with
                Second Baptist Church of Elgin

Please join us for our 18th annual worship exchange with Second Baptist Church. The Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Edmond will preach here at Highland Avenue at 9:30am. Then all are invited to travel across the Fox River to Second Baptist Church (1280 Summit Street) to hear Pastor Katie preach. Plans are in the works for choirs from both churches to sing together again. Please help us celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. weekend by continuing to build relationships across race, culture, and congregations.  

Jan 27     Traditional worship service
Scripture:  Luke 4: 14-21
Sermon title:  Be Free     Presented by:  Pastor Katie

All are invited to reflect on the audacious and Spirit-filled message of Jesus reading scripture, a practice that can still be dangerous to the powers that be. The adult choir will return this Sunday with Jonathan Shively serving as interim director. 

Sunday worship service  9:30 a.m.  All are welcome!

Fellowship time   10:30 a.m.  Vsitors, take a blue mug  : )

Sunday School  11:00 a.m.   For all ages

Wednesday Morning Bible Study 10 a.m. each week. We will study the scripture text that will be used for our worship service the following Sunday. Join us for a spirited, open discussion!