Today is Holy Saturday, arguably the most somber day of the year. This is the day that we remember as the day after the Crucifixion of Jesus and the day before the Resurrection. Somber and dark.
As is our world. Indeed, a world without the Christ can't be much else than somber and dark, pained and dreary and hopeless. We see it all around us.
For example, the morning news from our region included an account of a electric utility worker flagged down by a 4-year-old boy. The words were, his parents were in jail and he couldn't wake his grandmother. The utility worker, a former police officer, investigated. Grandmother was never going to wake up, she is dead, bottles of pills found by her. The story is viewable at this link. I promise that this little boy will never see the Easter season in the same way others do, ever. His life is changed forever. And, somehow, I doubt that attendance at Sunday morning worship services celebrating the Risen Lord was scheduled for him, or for anyone else around him.
Now, multiply that by many like it.
If, perchance, I drive around the region on regular streets, meaning not the interstates nor the 4-lane divided state highways (though sometimes even then), I can see weed-covered lots where houses and businesses once stood, where children played and and adults met. I see that even some of the taverns are falling in, some finding it less costly to get their beer and wine at the "party store", and then to sit on the steps and drink themselves into oblivion. Or to take heroin, unconcerned that it may kill them. Sometimes selling (or renting) their bodies to acquire the means.
I've seen instances of sexually active 9-year-old children, doing what they've seen adults do. Sometimes they're girls, sometimes they're little boys, trafficked by those who supposedly are their protectors and guardians. And we are instructed to not be "judging". Often by those in pulpits.
The time in which Christ was walking the earth was little better, and perhaps worse. The people of Israel had, once again, been conquered and occupied by a very hostile foreign power, and living conditions were dreadful. The Temple in Jerusalem still stood, for a while. But the Romans were an occupying force, having supplanted the Macedonians, and several others before then. The temptation to compromise the Law of Moses was strong, and many did. Others chose to make their rigid adherence to their particular interpretations and traditions the focus of their lives. Those who had other traditions and interpretations were often regarded as the enemy, as bad as the worst heathens, and the internecine squabbles occupied much attention. Immorality, crime, hunger, sickness, and violence were common. Love of God was less common.
Into this came Jesus. He brought hope. He still does.
And when all seems dark and hopeless, He's still there. Whether we see Him or not.
Our Old Testament portion is chapters 17 and 18 of 1st Samuel.
You want hopeless? The armies of the Philistines, large and fierce, and MUCH better armed (courtesy of the sort of "gun control" that always marks tyrannies) were facing down the rabble commanded by Saul. And they had a champion, one Goliath of Gath. A giant. The "six cubits and a span" mentioned here, works out to about nine feet nine inches tall. With armor and armament to fit. You want to engage in hand to hand combat with him, he with armor and a real big sword, and you with a staff or a pruning hook or something (only Saul and his son Jonathan had real swords)?
So they mocked Saul's army, and they mocked the Lord as well.
By the way, by some accounts, Goliath was a relative of David. Goliath is, by some accounts, said to be the descendant of Orpah, co-wife and full sister of Ruth, David's great grandmother. Ruth, a widow, accompanied her mother in law back to Israel, and married Boaz.
Goliath had size and power. David had the Lord. We know who won that one.
There's long been speculation about why David had five smooth stones, when only one was needed. There are those who believe that Goliath had four brothers, and the others were just in case. I don't know, and it's probably not all that important. Lots of speculations aren't.
The point is that an obviously hopeless situation, turned out to be a great victory, one we still remember. David moved. He didn't wait for Goliath to fall over, we went forward into an impossible situation.
I Samuel 18
Our reading in the New Testament for the day is verses 1-10 from Luke 15.