The Importance of Confronting our Limitations


A sermon preached on December 13th, 2020 — the third Sunday in Advent – entitled, “The Importance of Confronting our Limitations.”

he Gospel writer John begins by telling us about light that sustains creation, and about a man named John who came to bore witness to the light. The light John talks about is more than simply physical light – he is talking about the light – the goodness that sustains all creation.

As such he mirrors the very first chapter, of the Bible – indeed the very first day of creation in which “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

First there was darkness, and then God created light and declared the light good. But God doesn’t call the darkness – the nighttime — bad. In fact, in some sense the light would be meaningless without darkness as a contrast.

God’s creation has a rhythm to it: there is night time and there is day time, a rhythm reflected in the commandment to keep the Sabbath day of rest. There is the time for work and there is the time for rest.

Advent comes in the season of the year when the darkness is greater – the literal physical darkness as we approach the winter solstice. The nights are very long, the days are very short. In the natural world it is the season of hibernation. All living beings wait for the light to return.

For the vast majority of human history, there was a basic acceptance of the fact that the absence of light at night meant that there were limitations regarding what human beings could accomplish – the acceptance of the fact that we don’t always get what we want.

Once the sun had set, work largely stopped, and with shorter days less work was accomplished. That’s just the way it was.

And then human beings learned how to harness the power of electricity, and Thomas Edison invented the first electric light bulb. And technology began to advance at warp speed.

Much good has come out of the advancements in technology. On many fronts, it has led to the reduction a human suffering and the enhancement of life. In this sense the advancement of technology has been an expression of the original Biblical affirmation about we human beings that also comes from the story of creation that we are made in the image and likeness of God. When human beings create technology that enhances life, we reflect the creative nature of God.

Of course, there have been ways in which the advancements of technology have not been so good. The obvious ways include the ever-increasing sophistication in weapons of war.

But that’s not the negative consequence of technology’s advancement that I’m thinking about this morning. I’m thinking about the ways in which technology has led us to lose touch with the