(I wrote this article for our local newspaper last month. I’m posting it here on my blog and adding some pictures, so I can share it with someone over the internet.)
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
This short verse from the gospel of John contains the fullness of what Christians believe about what God did in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness, evil, jealousy, hatred, fear, and injustice in this world. A long time ago on a Friday, Darkness threw everything it had at Jesus, and Sunday morning, Darkness learned it had not overcome the Light.
Light persists. I see it everywhere. Light shines in musicians who hone their skills and
offer them to us live in sanctuaries, concert halls, and nursing homes. Light shines in local agencies like BackPack Beginnings, feeding hungry school kids and Reading Connections, helping adults become literate.
Light insists. It will not relent. Light glows in women who say #MeToo, shining its rays in old, painful corners and exposing ugly truths. Light glimmers in the holy work of those who serve refugees in this and all nations. When people have awkward, honest conversations about race, the Light shines. The Light insists on justice for the oppressed and reconciliation where there has been disunity.
We Christians who follow the liturgical calendar are in the season of Advent. It’s a four-week period before Christmas wherein we spend time anticipating the birth of the Light
among us. We hear the prophets foretelling the Messiah, the promises of God, and the way Israel longed for a Savior. While ancient Israel waited for a Savior to be born, we wait for Christ to return, to set all things right.
While we wait, we look for the Light in the world around us. My friend, Chantal, glimmers with the Light of Christ as she works planting a new bi-lingual and bi-cultural Christian community in Winston-Salem. But, the Light isn’t only found in congregations and Bible studies. It glows in foster families and animal shelters. You can see it shimmering among friends laughing over a good meal and adult children caring for aging parents. In every parent who is patiently negotiating mealtime or bedtime with a toddler, the Light shines.
While we wait, we participate in the Light; we run into the darkness with our candles of
hope. We reflect the Light’s rays when we have a hard conversation in order to work on forgiveness. The light glints off the barrel of our pen as we write a check to a helping agency. When we pile in a van to visit a lonely friend and sing carols in his living room, we are rays of the Light.
Living in a divided nation, in a world pulsing with war and injustice, we might feel hopeless, like the Darkness is winning. But it’s just not true. There is more love than hate, more Light than Dark. Our call is to keep walking with our candles, to keep persisting and insisting in our parts of the world that the Darkness did not overcome the Light. If you look just so, tilt your head and squint your eyes just right, you’ll begin to make out the shape of a candle and the glow of its flame in your neighbors’ hands, too.
Reverend Jennifer Krushas is pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran in High Point, NC.