YMCA Lead Chaplain Nicki Sudworth

19 April 2019

Here at YMCA we hold tightly to our Christian foundation and build on these values to ‘transform communities so that all young people can belong, contribute and thrive.’ So why does understanding God in the darkness matter?

Throughout the bible, beginning in Genesis chapter 1 where “the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep”, God resides in darkness.  Many more times in the Old Testament the darkness surrounds him.

The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness1 Kings 8:122 Chronicles 6:1

He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. Psalm 18:11

Clouds and darkness are round about him. Psalm 97:2

God dwelt in the Holy of Holies, the very centre of the Jewish temple, surrounded in darkness behind a woven curtain the thickness of a man’s arm, and the High priest of the time would enter, trembling once a year to offer sacrifice for the whole people of Israel.

This seems to be a paradox – the God of Light, the God who is light, dwelling in darkness?

Let’s move to the New Testament and the accounts of Jesus dying on the cross.

Matthew 27:45, 50-51…

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour…And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.  And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

The presence of God, no longer behind the curtain but throughout the whole world. God in the darkness.

When a resident who suffers from depression talked of her illness, she said: ‘It’s as if a darkness is all around me and through me, and I can’t see past it.’

God is in the darkness, right there alongside her. He promises to always be with us, especially in the darkness, and I feel a real privilege to be the physical Christian walking next to her.

This message is so true of our values at YMCA St Paul’s Group.  We strive to support and walk alongside all those who use our services, offering our time, listening to their problems, actively helping to move life forward even in the darkest times.  While ‘seeking excellence, promoting aspiration, inclusively accepting those of faith or none, and being honest about what we can offer’,we are privileged to be the people walking next to those who are struggling.