The Light Shines in the Darkness

prayers-david-young.jpg“In him was life and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4,5). As I read these words this morning I could not help but remember my first trip to Norway when I flew from New Zealand at the beginning of December. Suddenly I was plunged into darkness and found myself struggling with nights that crashed in on me a little after 2 pm in the afternoon. Then I became aware of the lights – they festooned the trees, and lit up candelabras in the windows. They hung as icicles around the eaves and lit up ice sculptures in the front yard. Most breathtaking of all they shone in stars that hung over rooftops and crowned the light enshrouded trees.

Growing up in the southern hemisphere where Christmas falls in the middle of summer with its long sunlit evenings, Christmas lights held little meaning for me except as pretty decorations. Until that visit to Norway, I had never fully appreciated the impact of light in a darkened world but to my light light starved eyes those Christmas lights were lifesaving and my soul feasted on their brilliant display.

For people in Jesus day the imagery of light in darkness must have been even more profound. In today’s world few of us understand what it would be like to see a light shining in a completely dark landscape. Even when we are miles from the city, the horizon is often lit by the glow of a myriad of street lights. We have even less understanding of the fear that must have gripped people’s hearts when their fire went out and there was no dry tinder around to start a new one. Imagine what they would have given for an electric light that could not be snuffed out by a gust of wind or a deluge of rain.

In Jesus’ day, it was not just imaginary monsters that lurked in the darkness – lions, bears, and predators of all kinds could be drawn to the vulnerable humans who lacked light. So for the people who read John’s words the imagery of light in the darkness was truly imagery of life in the midst of danger and death. The promise of Christ’s coming brought with it the assurance of safety and security in the midst of the terrors of the world in which they lived.

I long to see Christ’s light shine as brilliantly in our world today as these words promise. Yesterday my world was shaken by the shootings at the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) base just outside Denver in Colorado. I spent 12 years of my life in YWAM and still have many good friends in the the mission, some of whom work with YWAM Colorado. I am grateful that none of my friends were injured in this horrible event but I am devastated by the senseless killing of these young people. I am also devastated by the loss of thousands of young children that die every day as a result of hunger and disease. And I am devastated by the horrors of AIDS and the atrocities of sex trafficking and war. Even though we may not be as impacted by the imagery of light in the midst of darkness as people were two thousand years ago, we should still be profoundly impacted by the wonder of Christ’s light shining in our darkness and we should be reassured by the promise and the hope that it brings.

May the light of Christ truly shine in our dark and troubled world.

his is an Advent Posts for the Johannine Advent Blog project hosted by Brother Maynard. Participating bloggers are: