BY THE REV. DR. NOLA KNOUSE |
The following was delivered by the Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse at Wake Forest Baptist Health Star Lighting Ceremony December 2, 2019.
Tell me a story… Children learn quickly to ask for a story, and another one, and another one. We live by our stories more than by our facts…for the facts may tell the “where” and “when” and “what” of our lives, but our stories tell the “how” and “why.”
The Bible is full of stories. The very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible begins with a story. Once upon a time, long ago and far away… I know, that’s not exactly what it says.
In the beginning, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters … and so on … and so on… And on each of the first six days of the beginning, God spoke the cosmos as we know it into being. First, light. Second, the dome of heaven – heaven and earth. Third, separating the waters from the land, thus forming dry land and seas, and all the plants and trees and each bearing fruit according to its kind. Fourth, the sun and the moon and stars, to separate day from night. Fifth, sea creatures and birds, everything that swims and everything that flies above the earth. Sixth, living creatures on the earth, everything that walks on the earth and everything that creeps along the ground. And humankind in all its variety and God blessed the humans made in God’s very image.
And with each day of creation, there is something repeated. Like a refrain to God’s work. God looked upon what God had made, and God saw that it was good. And God saw that it was good. Say it with me – And God saw that it was good.
And you know the second part of this story – how the humans failed to live in trust in God’s provision and goodness, however, since the beginning of humanity we have fallen short of God’s glory. We have failed to take care of God’s creation, every bit of which God saw as good. And in the good, beautiful world God created we know violence, and hunger, and illness. We know of war and oppression, of all the wrongs people do to people. We know the wrongs we do to people. I don’t think it’s possible to walk through this world with one’s eyes open at all and not be confronted with the wickedness, the evil, all around us. It’s real. Too often it seems even “realer”, more evident, than the goodness God saw in God’s handiwork.
But today, in this season of short days and long nights, in this time of expectancy when we long for the coming of the Prince of Peace, when we fervently pray that, as the psalmist says, God will finally come to set the earth aright – today we gather not to bemoan the wrongs we see. Today we affirm the goodness of God’s creation. Today we affirm the goodness of the work of this medical center. Today we declare with all our hearts, with all our courage, that wrong will not have the final word. Truly God yearns for the restoration of creation; for all of humanity to live in harmony; for the creation to be loved and cared for. And God will get what God wants. Our job is to see where God is going, what God is doing, and to join in God’s good work.
Truly the coming of Jesus in Bethlehem so many years ago, and the renewal of his presence in our hearts for which we yearn this Advent season, has one message: God loves the world. God loves the world. God loves ALL the world and everyone in it. This star, which will shine so brightly over the weeks to come, shines as an affirmation of the Creator who is also our Savior. It shines in the defiant stubborn faith that good overcomes evil. May it remind us that though there may be weeping for a night, joy will come in the morning. May it be a reminder of all God’s promises for all God’s children. Therefore, brothers and sisters – for so we all are – Let there be light.
About the Author
The Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse Director of the Moravian Music Foundation, holds degrees from Wake Forest University and the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, with specialization in eighteenth-century German music theory and performance. She also holds the Certificate in Theological Studies from Moravian Theological Seminary and is an ordained Moravian minister. She has held teaching positions at the Eastman School of Music, Oregon State University, North Carolina School of the Arts Community Music School, Wake Forest University, and Salem College. She is active as a flutist, composer, and arranger and is a lifelong Moravian and a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.