Got A Light?

Got a light?

February is perhaps the bleakest month of the year. Christmas seems an age ago, spring is far off, the days are still short and it’s biting cold. What’s to like?

Mercifully, into the gloom comes the Church festival of Candlemas, which falls on 2nd February. Traditionally it’s when people brought their candles to church to be blessed, before taking them home to be used for the rest of the year. In an age of electric lights we may not do that anymore but we value candles as much as ever. At home they are a source of soothing light and scent that help us relax. In church they provide a gentle light and are a good focus for contemplation. They also, however, carry great symbolic value.

That symbolism goes right back to the beginning of time, to the poetic account of creation given in the Bible, in the Book of Genesis:

              God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.

From then on in the Bible light is a sign of the glory of God. So, at Christmas the ‘glory of the Lord shone around’ the shepherds when they’re told of the birth of Christ. And later, when Jesus had grown up, he tells the people,

              ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have         the light of life.’

It’s a strange way for someone to talk about themselves. What did he mean?

We all know what it’s like when you take light into a dark place: the darkness instantly disappears. Even though a room may be pitch black, even a match struck in it will dispel the darkness. No amount of darkness can overwhelm a light, however small.

Darkness doesn’t describe only physical spaces. We’ve heard people say, ‘I’m in a dark place’, meaning they’re feeling in a low mood, or worse. We may have said it, or at least felt it, ourselves. Lots of people are doubtless feeling in a dark place today because of the pandemic. The news is telling us that, long after the vaccine has been rolled out, there will be many people left struggling from the effects of loss: bereaved families who could not say goodbye properly; medical staff on ICU wards who’ve witnessed death rates at unprecedented levels; children whose studies have been disrupted. For these and many other reasons life can feel very dark.

So, back to Jesus. In saying ‘I am the light of the world’ he seems to be claiming that following him can change how life feels, that he can light up the dark places in our hearts and spirits. It’s a bold claim, an outrageous claim, an insane claim, unless he is who the Christmas story says he is, ‘Emmanuel, God with us’, the same God who said ‘Let there be light’. Then it’s a claim that’s nothing but assuring and comforting -  we might say enlightening - to be discovered by an act of faith that says, ‘I believe you’ and welcomes Jesus into the dark places in our lives.

Later this month we’ll begin Lent, on Ash Wednesday, 17th February at 7.30pm on Zoom. If you’d like to join in with this, or any of our regular Sunday Zoom services, please see the calendar.

Got a light? No, but I know a man who has.

Take care,

Donald

 


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Page last updated: 15th January 2021 8:09 PM