July 2015

Let there be light

 

The St Margaret’s Flower Festival this year on Sunday July 12th is centred on the theme of Light, and so that is a subject to which I have been giving a degree of thought. And if you are thinking about light, you do not have to travel too far through the bible to find it taking centre stage. In the wonderful story at the beginning of Genesis – one of the last parts of the Old Testament to have been written – the first words put into the mouth of God are ‘Let there be light’. Light is an essential part of creation, for without it, creation cannot take place.

 

If you venture further into Exodus, then you come across another aspect of light, in that it signifies the presence of God. Moses was aware of God’s presence in the burning bush, and from then on – with the stories of Moses’ face shining whenever he had been speaking with God, with the Transfiguration, with the fire of Pentecost (a very selective list) – God’s presence is signified by light.

 

In the magnificent poem that opens St John’s Gospel – a poem which deliberately echoes the opening of Genesis – Jesus is presented as the light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.

 

Light is the sign of creation, the sign of God’s presence and the symbol of Christ in the world. And all of that means that it is important for us. The first letter of Peter tells us that we should show forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Our duty and our joy is to spread light. And it should be our joy, for if it merely our reluctant duty, then the light will not shine. For between spreading light and spreading darkness, there is no comfortable twilight zone: if we are not spreading light, we are spreading darkness.

 

What does spreading light mean? Let me give some examples. Being alongside those in need and distress is spreading light; helping others is spreading light; reconciling those who are divided is spreading light; using your gifts and talents for other people is spreading light; being determined each day to make al those whose lives you touch feel better is spreading light. The list goes on. And the alternative? Thinking only of yourself is spreading darkness; imposing your views or yourself on others is spreading darkness; refusing to be reconciled is spreading darkness; moaning and grumbling all the tim is spreading darkness. Again the list goes on. And it is all too easy to find ourselves slipping unconsciously into the ‘darkness’ camp.

 

The Spirit lives to set us free. If we walk in the light, we will be free because we will be living for others and not for ourselves. If we turn our backs on the light of Christ, the only human form we can see is a distorted one of ourselves if we look to the ground and see our shadow: if we turn to face the light of Christ, then we can see our fellow men and women with their faces also lit up by the same light. That is true living. Let us all embrace the light and share the light.