It is often said that it is darkest just before the dawn. Times have been dark for the whole world over the past two years. COVID-19 has been no respecter of persons, borders or status, and it has upended the lives of millions of people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1:5 (NRSV)
During these difficult days, we can easily feel overwhelmed by life. We can feel anxious, unsure and insecure. These are all normal feelings. In the midst of this, light brings hope. Light is a sign pointing to something better and beyond.
The great Christian hope is that God-in-Christ has come into the world, beginning a process of making all things new. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. Light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it.
Jesus referred to himself as the Light of the world. He added that whoever follows him will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
While progress has been made, the treatment of women today is in many parts of the world very much like it was in Jesus’ time. This includes in Gaza, where it is reported that many men whose wives have breast cancer leave them for another woman. Additionally, if you are a young woman whose mother or aunt has had breast cancer, you may be considered unmarriageable and be ostracised. The stigma of breast cancer for women looms large over Gazan society.
The metaphor of light is a powerful and popular one throughout the Bible. In the creation story in Genesis, on the very first day, God created light, and it was good.
The opening of John’s Gospel is a deliberate pointer back to Genesis. In the opening words, “In the beginning”, we hear echoes of the creation in Genesis, and we are told that in the Word was life and that life was the light of all people. Then comes the wonderful statement that this light has overcome the darkness in the world.
Light is a pointer, a sign, pointing to something greater and beyond. By referring to himself as the Light of the World, Jesus is emphatically declaring that he is the One through whom life is given to all people. He is that pointer. Through his life, death and resurrection, he shows us what life is about, and he shows us how to live this life.
It is through his life as described in the gospels that we see particularly how Jesus related with women. In the first century, women were considered to be second-class citizens. Your testimony was not valid in a court of law if you were a woman.
Jesus turned all that upside down. Women were among his closest followers; he honoured them when the rest of society shamed them. He lifted them up and gave them prominence when the rest of society considered them to be unreliable. And the Gospels contain example of extraordinary women showing extravagant love, and standing faithfully at the Cross.
As the Light of the world, Jesus points us in a direction of love of those who are considered outsiders. Let us follow him on the way as we too love the outsider in our lives.
- What are some metaphors for light that might be relevant?
- As well as bringing hope, what else can light bring in the context of the Christian message?
- Next time you turn a light on, notice how it immediately dispels any darkness.
IDEA FOR APPLICATION…
Go online and find some images of lights. See how they remove darkness in different ways. What do they tell you about the power of light?