John 1:5 has captivated me for nearly three decades. ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’ (John 1:5, NRSV).
I have the verse written on a crystal candle holder; I have it painted on canvas; I have it in pictures, images and pieces of art around my home. I spend a few minutes every day of my life thinking about it. It has captivated me. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness never has, never does and never will be able to overcome it, extinguish it move it, reduce it, conceal it, defeat it, explain it away, obliterate it, understand it or diminish it. There are dozens of other verbs that I could try to use, and I would still not get to the end of that tiny, simple, sentence in the prologue of John’s Gospel.
This is the Light that shines in Christ. His Light is Life. His Light is Hope. His Light is Peace. Tomorrow, I will reflect on the remarkable way in which John picks up the image of light at the end of his Gospel, on Resurrection Day, but for now, I want to invite you to reflect with me on the Light that shines in our lives – the Light of Christ.
As I sat down to write this reflection, I lit a small candle and placed it in the candle holder on my desk. You can see the word that has so many meanings etched on the candle holder beneath the flame.
Just one word in the Bible, one idea, has captivated me for nearly all of my Christian life – this powerful promise that Light is stronger than darkness, Life is stronger than death. It fills my imagination, holds my attention and stirs my spirit. This is the Light that comes to us in the Incarnation. I do not need to see the star shining in the sky above a stable. The Light of Christ has been placed within us. How remarkable. How simple. How breathtaking.
There are many times that I feel that the light of my faith is weak, that it might go out. The winds of adversity blow and it feels like the flame will be snuffed out. Sorrow will suffocate it, fear will extinguish it – at least it can feel like that. This flame will not die, though. It was not lit by me, it was lit by God. He will guard it. He will shield it. He will protect His light in me.
How do you respond to the promise of God’s Light? Have you felt that it might be extinguished by circumstances? Why don’t you find a space and watch a flame – light a candle, pull up a GIF on your phone, look into an open fire. Watch a light bulb. Look at a street lamp in the night sky. And remember. Remember the Light of Christ. Be inspired again by the Light and Life of God – given to you as a gift that will never be taken from you.
(c) Malcolm J. Duncan (Advent 2019)