Last Sunday of the Church Year – C (Proper 29) LSB #’s 703:1-4, 396, 337 Text – Colossians 1:13
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness & transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
THE DOMAIN OF DARKNESS
When you meet someone new, as you’re getting to know them through small talk, one of the common things people ask is this, “Where are you from?” To know that gives us a sense of who they are. Whether we’re from Ireland or Germany, Michigan or California tells people something about the experiences which shaped & molded us while growing up.
We might learn of the language a person grew up speaking & how fluent they are in our native tongue. In the Navy, I met an officer who grew up in southern California. He never considered that outdoor temperatures can end up below zero until he spent a winter in Idaho.
A friend of mine at seminary never considered that farmers would try to drain water off their fields, so the crops would not flood. He grew up in the desert & they always had to add water, through irrigation, to make anything grow.
Have you considered how your life, your thoughts, values & opinions were shaped by where you are from? Narrowing in more specifically on the spiritual aspect of life, have you considered the differences that exist between you & someone who has grown up in a thoroughly atheistic country?
Think how someone might react if they asked you where you’re from & you answered, “I’m from the domain of darkness.” Unusual as that may sound, it is entirely correct. Each of us, & every other human being you have ever met, are from that domain. The Holy Spirit inspired & empowered King David to confess:
“I have been evil from the day I was born; from the time I was conceived, I have been
sinful.” (Psalm 51:5 GNT) And the Apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions & sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world & of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh & following its desires & thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV)
That describes, very well, the domain of darkness, & God is making the point that all of us were conceived there. That domain has shaped us, along with our thoughts, opinions & values. The message Paul is delivering in Colossians is that we need to be rescued & our heavenly Father does not leave us in that domain of darkness.
The Holy Spirit works through the means of grace – Baptism, Communion & God’s Word – to transfer us into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. All who believe in Jesus as Savior now live under His reign even here in the brokenness of this darkness. You & I are from the domain of darkness, but it no longer owns us. We have been set free of eternal death.
The nation we live in today has become a dark place, but it’s not that sin has been missing in prior years. It’s just that sin seems to have gained a greater foothold lately. Fewer & fewer people are willing to commit time & energy to the things God calls us to. He calls His creation to life, but Satan has a different definition of life than God.
The words we spoke during the Introit give us a facet of God’s definition: “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him! (Psalm 33:8 ESV) Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night in the house of the LORD!” (Psalm 134:1 ESV) Praising God shows that we are truly alive. Satan despises that.
Whenever it comes to any definition of life that the Bible gives, the Devil will plant the question, “Did God really say that?” Satan will then offer up anything as life that has nothing to do with Jesus as Savior. For example, in our recent election, Proposal 3 was offered up by Satan as life. Instead of looking to Jesus as Savior from their troubles, people in Michigan voted to allow abortion anytime, anywhere for any reason. And real human beings have their lives ended in abortion, as the supposed solution to problems. Ending an innocent person’s life to solve a problem is a perfect example of living in the domain of darkness.
The whole reason the Son of God took on human flesh was to transfer us out of the domain of darkness & into His kingdom of life. God, in the flesh, died on the cross so that we can look to His resurrection life as the solution to all the problems that trouble us in this domain of darkness. Satan’s whole desire is to keep us permanently in that domain of darkness.
Yet, every time we turn to God in prayer, even if it’s simply “Come, Lord Jesus” before a meal, each time the Holy Spirit is demonstrating His power & desire to transfer us out of the domain of darkness. That’s why it is so important to teach your children how to pray, or teach your spouse, neighbors & friends. Turning to Jesus demonstrates that we have been rescued.
Living in the domain of darkness is a horrible place to be. Even though we no longer belong there its horror still affects us every day. You & I have far more to offer people as solutions than abortion. We have far more to offer people who are lonely than hooking up outside marriage. We can point to a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.
“All things in heaven & on earth, visible & invisible, …were created through Christ & for Christ.” (Colossians 1:16 ESV) After transferring us out of the domain of darkness, He gives all of His creation to us, just like He gave it to Adam & Eve. Now, we continue to struggle in our calling as the caretakers of God’s creation.
In heaven we will fulfill our dominion over God’s creation perfectly in every way. There, no one will kill anything ever again. Confusion, suffering & death will not exist in that domain. There, we will experience & know intimately the heavenly Father’s definition of life in all of its amazing & beautiful ways. If you think a rising or setting sun can create beauty in this life you’ll be blown away by what you experience in paradise. And there, it’ll never get old. You will never take any blessings for granted. Your thoughts, values & opinions will be perfect & they’ll founded entirely upon the author & perfector of our faith – Jesus.
The domain of darkness is the exact opposite of that. It’s a world of lies & deception, of hatred & bitterness. It’s a world of entitlement & complete lack of gratitude. In that domain all of our thoughts, values & opinions are centered upon ourselves. What’s in this for me? There is no forgiveness & no hope in anything other than yourself.
As we have arrived at the last Sunday of the church year, we should also consider that our last Sunday on earth is now one week closer than before. For many of us here, growing older is synonymous with growing weaker & less capable. As a result, finding any sort of hope & forgiveness in ourselves becomes less & less likely.
On December 8th, 1987 the headlines read: “43 die on Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771.” In less than two minutes, 43 people had lost their lives when a hijacker shot a passenger & both pilots causing the plane to crash into a hillside along the coast of California. That’s a glaring example, yet, no matter how we look at it, life is short.
What really mattered for those who died in the crash? What really matters for anyone who closes their eyelids in death? Certainly not the things we possess! For the people on Flight 1771, the only thing that mattered was whether they had faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. God’s Spirit alone can transfer us to the kingdom of Jesus that lasts throughout eternity.
And God’s Spirit was at work on Good Friday as we heard in the Gospel reading. There, a criminal being executed next to the Son of God, simply said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43 ESV) Hours or even minutes before death that criminal realized he could not possibly save himself. Finally he surrendered & then was transported from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Ever since, He has been in paradise joyfully awaiting all of his brothers & sisters in Christ who have not yet arrived.
This last Sunday of the church year calls us to look with vigilance & faithfulness for the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus to take His redeemed people into paradise, & ultimately, into Heaven on Earth. This is the fulfillment for which all Christians yearn when we pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”
The next time someone asks, “Where are you from?” you now have quite a story to tell. May God grant you the specific words which that person needs to hear that he or she may also be transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.
This is also what you & I need to rediscover each day if we are going to embrace the life of Christ in the here & now, as well as have comfort & hope with respect to how our days here come to their end. I can assure you that in Christ they end well.
Fear not! Peace be with you, even when death grips your mortal body! Christ has overcome the world of sin, death & the Devil. Your redemption draws near! In the name of Jesus. Amen.
See earth in darkness lying, the heathen nations dying in hopeless gloom & night. To you the Lord of heaven – your life, your hope – has given great glory, honor & delight. Your heart will leap for gladness when from the realms of sadness they come from near & far. Your eyes will wake from slumber as people without number rejoice to see the Morning Star. Amen. LSB 396:2, 5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet