Read John 1:1-5
“A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” These words from John feel more true to me now than maybe at any other point in my life. Not in the sense that I’m having some deep existential struggle within myself, but I look at our world, and it just feels like there is so much darkness. Where do we draw hope from when everything feels hopeless? What promises can I hold fast to when it feels like the world is closing in around me?
Light is often associated with sight; if you are struggling to see in a dark room, you turn on the light. I often also associate light with warmth; the light, particularly the light of a fire, turns away the cold and provides warmth and a measure of comfort. And I don’t think these two things are mutually exclusive. Sight. Comfort. Warmth. These are all things that give me hope and help me trust when everything around me feels hopeless and when promises are broken.
The interplay between light and darkness is an interesting one to me. Earlier on in my life, I think I would have said that the Christian life is all about the light, and the darkness is bad, and the light is good, and being a Christian in the world is about bringing light to dark places. And while to some extent I think that’s still true, I think, more and more, I’ve come to think that God is God of both the darkness and the light. I mean, in Genesis, God creates both the dark and the light. Not to say that we shouldn’t still endeavor to bring light to dark places, but that even in the dark places of the world, God is there.
And that’s the kind of light that’s warming and comforting. That even when the darkness is so thick that the light seems to be swallowed up, these verses from John remind me that, ultimately, the darkness does not overcome the light. No matter how small and solitary my light feels, the darkness does not, and cannot, put out the light. Light banishes darkness, not the other way around. And that, to me, is the ultimate comfort.
And then I think of all of us, with our small, singular, solitary lights, coming together, joining our lights with each other. That kind of light can be powerful. It warms me just to think about it.
Mary Louise Bringle has a wonderful hymn in our Evangelical Lutheran Worship books (the red hymnals) called “Light Dawns On A Weary World” (#726). I think captures this incredible sense of promise and comfort that the light brings.
Verse 1: Light dawns on a weary world when eyes begin to see all people’s dignity./Light dawns on a weary world: the promised day of justice comes.
Chorus: The trees shall clap their hands; the dry lands, gush with springs;/the hills and mountains shall break forth with singing!/We shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace, as all the world in wonder echoes shalom.
Verse 2: Love grows in a weary world when hungry hearts find bread and children’s dreams are fed./Love grows in a weary world: the promised feast of plenty comes.
Verse 3: Hope blooms in a weary world when creatures once forlorn find wilderness reborn./Hope blooms in a weary world: the promised green of Eden comes.
Questions for reflection: What comforts you and brings you warmth? Do these words from John say anything to you for when the darkness feels unbearably thick? What are some dark places in the world? What are some ways that you can bring light to the dark places of the world?