Thursday, 10 December 2009

On the threshold of Christmas: the light shines in the darkness

the light shines in the darkness

Above all else, this is the truth which keeps me going. It is the one sure and certain, tried and tested, rock-solid experience at the core of my own faith and ministry. For me this is such an encouraging, liberating and enabling truth. God’s loving presence is enlightening; a stubborn, persistent and endlessly hopeful light, despite the supposed superiority of the darkness to have the last nihilistic word.  My favourite commentary expresses this so well: “The God of Israel is a God of shimmering surprises, of outlandish innovation and renewal……God intrudes to point us beyond our pessimism to God’s vision of new life”. This is the hinge upon which the door of Christmas swings open wide. Inside the well-lit kingdom of God the brilliance of this truth illuminates the present moment and sparkles with possibility.

In other words God never gives up. Even if faith disappeared from the world and humans cast off religion, nothing could or would change this ultimate fact. The light of love will always shine. And shine with creative, purposeful intent for each and every person. Such love shimmers all around us on the dark surfaces of daily life and points us to alternative realities which are but a breath of assent away. When Jesus says that he is the ‘Light of the World’ that phrase is pregnant with godly meaning-making within the darknesses and dark horizons of our experience. The early Jesus movement clung on to this truth about the essential light-bringing nature of God, taking the great spiritual affirmation of the book of Genesis “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light” (Gen 1:3) as a reality met face to face in Jesus: “For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6) And the paradox of dark-time truth is that no-one is beyond this light.

In the long, dark night hours of our journey, like pools of light falling from street lamps beside the path, God’s enlightening love lights up the way ahead: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows — light! sunbursts of light!”  (Isaiah 9:2)

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the
ones that really matter. Full of darkness and danger they
were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because
how could the end be happy? How could the world go
back to the way it was because so much bad happened? But in
the end, it’s only a passing thing. This shadow, even darkness,
must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it
will shine out the clearer.

Sam to Frodo in Peter Jackson's screenplay for “Lord of the Rings”


  1. Thanks for the Lord of the Rings quote - it's one of the bits in the film that always makes me cry! I think I'll use this quote on Sunday. Great blog too. John 1 will always be my 'core' text and an endless inspiration.

  2. If there was a version of Desert Island discs with bible verses instead of music, this would be the one I'd keep beyond all others. This time last year, when I was preparing to conduct three funerals in the week before Christmas (one of a 15 year old boy - a peer of my own eldest son) I hung onto this verse just as someone in fear of drowning hangs onto a lifebelt

  3. YES!!! Even the countless martyred CHRISTians through the ages, whose lives were extinguished, yet their light continue to shine on today. When JESUS said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" -- it's His command to stand firm with His Truth, no matter the cost. We as followers of JESUS have The LIGHT within us, but we have to step aside so as not to hinder His Light from shining John the Baptist, who magnified CHRIST and allowed his own light to diminish.

    The Light of the world is JESUS, and today, He shines His Light through genuine followers. i believe for His brilliance to shine through us, surrender and obedience to His indwelling SPIRIT is crucial. And yet, whether or not we allow His Light to shine forth through us, His Light can never be extinguished or dimmed or hid.

  4. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an hobbitual favourite in our household Micky and that particular clip has a similar effect here. Rachel,thank you so much for sharing what the passage means to you in such a powerful and moving way. And rln!it is good to know that the same text is inspirational for you too.