Witnessing To Light – Water Daily 12-27-23

You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday’s gospel reading is here

The cosmic first paragraph of John’s gospel ends with a declaration for all time: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
And then the writer brings us down to earth with a thud, introducing his first human character. One might expect that person to be this Word, this Life, this Light, but no – the first one to be mentioned is John the Baptist: 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.

A little later in the Gospel, we will hear John himself clarify his identity as one who testifies, who is not himself the light. John was God’s messenger, and like all God’s messengers, he pointed not to himself, but to the Life of God. In the darkness of his era, he pointed to the Light.

Many perceive a deep darkness in our current age, as the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider, human rights are narrowed, and despots stoke nationalistic fervor in their followers. In response to global and national events, some careen from outrage to terror to disgust at seeing basic freedoms jeopardized by strongmen who seem to delight in division and destruction, who privilege the already privileged at the expense of the vulnerable, and seem to glory in the devastation humankind is wreaking on the wondrous beauty of this world and its creatures. It can be hard to be hopeful.

On the personal plane, depression and addiction, suicide and despair are disconcertingly prevalent, while the resources for helping those caught in these cycles get stretched thinner. As mistrust among people and with religious organizations grows, the sense of darkness enshrouding us gets stronger. What about that light who has overcome the darkness?

Yes. The Light of the world is still here. He still resides in us, and we are still called to testify to the reality of him, and not only when we feel like it. As it was for John, it needs to become part of our deepest identity. If we trust the Light is real, the Light is true, the Light is here; if we have seen Christ shine light into shadow places, to heal and restore and renew what is broken; then we have testimony to offer.

And boy, do we need to hear it. It can be hard to see where hope lies. When the clouds gather, I need to remember that this is my call, my mission, not just as an ordained person but as a Christ follower. In fact, I once head God tell me in prayer that I was to develop my ability to see in the dark. To do that, I have to trust in the Light I carry.

What is the darkest place you know of right now? Who is in the deepest despair?
Go, and testify there to the Light you know, the light you have known. Perhaps that is all the church is supposed to be doing right now, testifying to the Light who is Jesus. This Light has an interesting property – it gets brighter and stronger in this world the more we point it out. Everybody wins.

(c) Kate Heichler, 2023. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe here.  Here are the bible readings Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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