The Coming of Light

Scripture Text: John 12: 44-46

44Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

I think we often have this sense that the Light is the end-all.  After all, it’s the thing to which we’ve journeyed, the thing for which we’ve searched.  But have you ever looked at light?  (I know.  You’re really not supposed to do that.)  But while I was thinking about this post, I looked up at my kitchen light.  It’s one of those flood lights that you can turn and redirect.  I was in my living room and it didn’t have many lights on so, basically, I was in the darkness looking at a light.  And behind the light, surrounding the light, was a circular rainbow.  See, there’s always more in the Light. And it could only be seen in the dark.

This Scripture comes in the midst of the readings that we use for Holy Week.  Jesus is preparing for the cross.  But part of that preparation was pointing yet again toward God.  Jesus more than once confirmed that he was the “Light to the world” but he never let it stop there.  There is always more to the Light.  Jesus was always quick to remind his followers of that.  He espoused that they were not believing in him as a person, as a man who showed them the Light.  They were rather believing in God.  They were looking toward the Light that Jesus had been sent to show them.

OK, hang with me here…at the risk of going all 4th century on you, I’m going to go all 4th century on you!  In “The Life of Moses”, St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-c. 395) contends that a person’s encounter with the mystery of God comes in three parts—light, cloud, and darkness.  (I know, that sort of sounds backwards.)  He sees the first stage in our quest to encounter God in light, such as Moses’ vision of God in the burning bush, illuminating the darkness of our sin and ignorance about who God really is.  The second stage is a journey into partial darkness where Moses encounters God as the cloud, an intermingling of darkness and light.  The final stage is entering where God really is (not a place, mind you, but a way of being).  And in that, we come to the realization that God IS Light, that God IS Mystery, that God is utterly incomprehensible.  In this place, Moses declared on Mt. Sinai that he had seen God or, in other words, had seen the eternal mystery that is God and had finally begun to understand his part of that Mystery.

The crux of this rather long-winded explanation is that the Light to which we journey is not the end; it is the beginning.  The Light is the beginning of our knowing not God in God’s fullness.  We are not meant to know that.  God IS mystery.  But the Light to which we journey is the beginning of us knowing not who God is but who we are meant to be as we encounter our Creator, our Sustainer, our Redeemer, the One in whom we believe. It’s also the beginning of us finally knowing that the darkness is also filled with Light.  As we come into the Light as it dawns on the world, we begin to see beyond—and it is glorious!

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

In every beginning, there is darkness.  The darkness of chaos seems eternal, Yet form emerges: light dawns, and life is born. (Sixth Service of The New Union Prayerbook) 

Grace and Peace,

 Shelli

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