Jesus said: I am the light of the world. John 8:12
One the most inspiring and spiritually satisfying worship services was on Good Friday night this past year. Just as we were about to start the service, without warning the lights went out and stayed out! The church was dark. The candles had been removed the night before during the Stripping of the Altar. Should we cancel and all go home or should we try and gather together in the dim light that was still coming in through the windows? We decided to go in and worship together. The liturgy itself was spontaneous since I could see only dimly, and the congregation couldn’t see enough to read at all. There was silences and time for reflection together. When we left I felt I had indeed traveled to the tomb of Jesus in a new way.
This Good Friday reflection was prompted by the weather forecasts that are predicting some ice and snow during the next few days. This is a reminder to many of us of the potential for power outages. We may be suddenly plunged into darkness during the next few months before the warmth of spring once again returns.
A recurring theme in the Bible is how often the people walked in darkness waiting for the promised light of Christ to come. And as The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us in her book, God in Pain, it is in the darkness where we are most likely to find God. When fear creeps into our hearts and chases out the light of hope, God comes to us and leads us gently back to the light of hope and wholeness. When fear causes us to make irrational decisions like rushing off to the grocery store to buy weeks of food supplies when even the weatherman is predicting only an inch or so of snow, God might bring us a smile when we try to stuff all those canned goods into our cabinets. Maybe in thanksgiving for not having starved to death we can take some of the food to our Helping Hands food bin where it can go to feed those who really are in need.
Very good things can also happen in the darkness. Sitting in the dark or maybe only by the light of a single candle can help our ability to listen, to pray, to just think and wonder, and dream new dreams without any sensory distractions. It’s a better way to unwind and relax than staring at commercials and re-runs on television. Sleep seems to me to gently come in the dark and in the silence of a winter night.
Mary and Joseph experienced the birth of God’s only Son in the night, and shepherds were told of this glorious impossible event during the night.
God is a light in the night times of our lives and whispers to our hearts, ‘Be not afraid for I am with you.’ Be patient. All shall be well. All manner of things shall be well. All shall be well.
Come let us go out into the night and go to our poor stable and see the light of the world –Jesus the Son of God – lying in the manger.