The Light Shines in the Darkness

So many emotions this past week.  The consecration of a new bishop on Saturday filled the Diocese of Lexington with such great hope for our future.  On Sunday morning our parishes observed Gaudete (Refreshment) Sunday, when we are invited to shift our Advent focus from preparation to hopeful expectation, symbolized by our lone pink candle among the three blue candles of the season. 

Yet in the background, looming over such joyful moments, is the tragedy from this past Friday.  At the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT a man shot and killed 27 people (20 children, six faculty, and the man’s own mother).  This horrific act—the largest school shooting in this nation’s history—has brought Americans from all backgrounds, faiths, and ideals to their knees.  With broken hearts and tear-soaked faces we look to God and ask, “Why?” 

There are no simple answers.  There are no easy solutions.  And there is no degree of consoling that can make sense of such an act.  We who survive are left only to wonder where God could possibly be in the midst of this.

The prologue to John’s gospel, which will be the gospel that is read for us on Christmas morning, tells us that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1: 5).  The light, of course, is Jesus Christ, the Word that existed at the beginning of time, through which all things have come into being.  The light of Christ shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.

But notice that John does not say that the light dispels the darkness.  The darkness is still there.  The light does not completely destroy it.  And that is where God/Jesus is.  Standing in the midst of the darkness. God in Christ does not promise to rid our world of darkness but to be with us in the midst of the darkness, to stand by us so that the darkness does not overcome us. 

There will always be darkness.  But God promises to stand with us in the midst of it, holding our hands, crying with us.  God’s light, the light of Christ, shines in the middle of our darkest hours, even if as a mere flicker.  The darkness will never overtake this light, and God’s joy and refreshment will, with time, come upon us.  Darkness will never win.

Just as the candles of our Advent wreaths light the way to Christmas, Christ’s own light will bring us refreshment and lead us into all joy and truth. 

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
--‘A Prayer for the Human Family,’ The Book of Common Prayer (p. 815)


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