The Dark Half

Those who know say you should always use some sort of visual for a blog. They get more hits.  I don’t because I don’t know how, and don’t care enough to learn. That is the Luddite me at his worse. A better way to look at blog “art” is as marginalia. Sure maybe no monk labored months drawing them, but they do say something about the overall work.

For this blog I have not one but two pieces of art work from as disparate sources imaginable. One is from the cover of Stephen King’s 1989 novel The Dark Half. The other is the cover of the “order” (I use the term generously and loosely.) of service for the opening “worship” (See parenthetical note above.) of the 2015 Texas District Convention. The theme for the convention was “The Mission Eyes of Jesus” and the cover is an artist’s interpretation of those eyes.


Aren’t they eerily, creepily, disconcertingly, similar? In this non-artist’s opinion, the Texas District cover is scarier than the Stephen King cover.  A quick peak inside confirms the opinion that the order of service is indeed the darker half of the two.  Here verbatim are the Confession and Absolution parts, and “yes” I could have put confession and absolution in quotes and said see the first parenthetical note above.

C  Eternal God, forgive our slowness to respond to Your Gospel with the zeal of active missionaries. We have not always used our ‘mission’ eyes as You would have us do. At times we have been silent, sometimes anonymous disciples of Christ, ignoring opportunities for genuine evangelism and service. By Your Spirit, send us on our way once more with Your forgiveness so that the world around us may hear our voices raised in witness. We ask it for the sake of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.

            P In the name Christ, we are forgiven. Let us rejoice in that forgiveness and here take up once more our part in the missionary kingdom of our Lord.

            C (with a shout): Alleluia! Amen!

If you cannot see that the confession is no confession of sin but a confession that we are not as good as we should and could be and, therefore an endorsement of a doable law, then you need to go back through junior confirmation.  Jesus didn’t suffer and die on the cross for our “slowness,” for our “not always,” for our “at times” and “sometimes” sinning.

If you cannot see that stating “we are forgiven” is no absolution, and that taking up once more “our part” in the missionary kingdom of our Lord is really a return to the Medieval doctrine of justification that God in his great mercy delivered us from through the ministry of Martin Luther, then you need to return to seminary.

The question is did pairing the mission eyes of Jesus with the mouth of a confessional pastor preaching, the Reverend Doctor Scott Murray, lighten the dark half? No, it paired them, joined them, and linked them as surely happened at the Lord’s Altar. There what Paul says is impossible happened – light was declared to have fellowship with darkness. So perhaps the mission eyes of Jesus looking like the burning eyes of judgment is fitting after all.




About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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