There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
John again? John the Baptist, this brash camel’s hair-wearing, locust-eating, wilderness wandered, is back. But here we are told that John is but a witness to something bigger, there to point to the Light of Christ that is coming. But what makes John’s message uncomfortable is that he is always pointing to that which the light illumines. For the writer of the Gospel According to John, the Logos was the true light bursting forth into humanity. Rather than an angel announcing the birth of a baby, the writer is using John as a witness to point to that light as well as the purpose of that light. We love the image of light but sometimes we are uncomfortable with full illumination. I mean, here’s John, running around like a wild man in the wilderness preaching repentance, calling for us to change, and just being really loud. Our reaction in this season is to respond with: “John…shhhh! You’ll wake the baby.”
We don’t really want to hear this during this season. We’d rather hear the tales of a baby being born, of shepherd’s visits, of angel’s callings. This is just too hard. This is just too uncomfortable. The season is just too dark for such a bright light. So John sort of gets in the way. And there we can’t help but look at the light. But, good grief, it’s so bright! How in the world can we be prepared for THIS? Well, don’t you remember how you prepare yourself to look at light? You prepare yourself to look at light by looking at light. So this Light of Christ, this radiant, fully-illuminating light, has now begun to peek into our lives in the form of a witness by this wild wilderness man. But the way that John witnessed (if you read on) was by pointing the light away from himself and toward the Light itself. John became a reflection of the Light. (Yeah…talking in circles again! It’s this light thing!)
Maybe that’s it. We are called to bask in the light and then deflect the light toward the light. We are called to illumine the Light of Christ for the world. We are called to be light by reflecting the Light. And the world will never be the same. You see, the reason that light is so incredibly uncomfortable is that, contrary to what we’d like to conjure up in our heads, this light is not warm and cozy. It is not a light that merely adds a little needed ambiance to an already-shadowed room. This light is BRIGHT, UNCOMFORTABLY BRIGHT. This is the kind of light that shines into the darkest corners and then bends itself around the turn. This is the kind of light that shines into the shadows that were trying desperately to remain hidden. This is the kind of light that shows the hidden shadows for what they are. Darkness cannot exist with this light. This light casts no shadows. This Light changes the way we see, changes the way we live. This Light exposes the world to itself.
It is that for which we’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting for something to not just light our way but to illumine the darkness. The darkness will be no more. The Light will come. And we, like John, are called to be witnesses to that light, to shine a light toward it. We are called to be light, the light that shines toward the Light. And the world will be forever different. No longer are the shadows able to exist unnoticed. You see, this light exposes everything for what it is. This Light makes us realize that poverty and homelessness, violence and war, greed and injustice are not just things that exist. This Light shines such a light that they become unacceptable, unimaginable, undone. This is the Light that calls us to see not just a dream of the way we could be, but the notion that we are called to be nothing less. Here’s the deal. The baby is already awake, already basking in the Light of the Eternal. So, we need to wake up, rub the sleep out of our eyes, and be a reflection of that light. Be Light.
Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. (Rabindranath Tagore)
FOR TODAY: Look for the light. Then reflect it toward the world. Be light. Be the Light.
Grace and Peace,