Maybe women did have a hand in writing the gospels; would a man use a laundry image to convey how white something was? And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.
It’s easy to associate “light” and “white” with God and godliness. Jesus said he was the “light of the world,” and light is generally white. Often we use these terms without questioning their impact. That impact, though, can vary according to one’s skin color, geography and temperament. Always equating whiteness with goodness, light with purity, can be hurtful, even distort someone’s self-image.
But up there on that mountain the three disciples saw a dazzling light, whiter than any bleach could achieve. It’s a wonder they weren’t completely blinded, like the Israelites when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, glowing so brightly after his time in God’s presence they had to veil him. In this story light and white are linked to divine revelation. I like to think that Jesus wasn’t just revealed as being like light, but as light itself – a beam of pure energy, in which there is no darkness at all, as God is pure good without a trace of not-good.
Darkness can have spiritual gifts for us – Barbara Brown Taylor published a book with that theme, Learning to Walk in the Dark. But this Sunday we celebrate Jesus as the Light of the World, and this moment when that Light was made known to three witnesses who made it known to the world.
How have you experienced God as light?
What is your experience of light spiritually?
What impact does Jesus as “light of the world” have?
Jesus said not only that he was the Light of the World – he said his followers were also the light for the world. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
If what the disciples saw was Light itself, the light we shine is reflected light, the way the moon reflects the sun’s light rather than being a source itself. As we make it our intention to put ourselves in the way of the Light of the World each day, and keep our reflectors cleaned and polished, we will indeed let our lights shine before others. If it’s Jesus’ light we’re reflecting, they may well be dazzled.
© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe here. Here are the bible readings for Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.