Thursday, December 12, 2013

Light in the darkness

It's advent. At some point in the next few weeks the opening prologue of John's gospel will be read in churches up and down the country. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God." It's a great opening to the unfolding story of the gospel narrative.

I was talking to some friends the other and they were lamenting the state of the world as usual. Big business avoiding tax and destroying the local traders; pay rates for MPs (it may be deserved but is it appropriate to do it now?); the unsustainable nature of first world economic models; does greed mitigate against the emergence of an equitable society? The usual list of things. Add to that the drugs issues, the crime rates, the lack of opportunity, falling pension rates, higher retirement ages and you might be tempted to despair of the situation. Is this really the world as it should be?

Even as a follower of Jesus Christ it is hard sometimes to remain hopeful in the face of what we around us. But that's where John's prologue comes to life. It's not just about the eternal nature of the Son and the Father or the opportunity we have to become children of God, or even the incarnation, important as these things are to our faith. No, here's a crucial phrase from those opening verses:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Whether you prefer overcome or understood doesn't really matter. What matters is that light drives out darkness.  Darkness is, as I'm sure you know, simply the lack of light. While there is light there is hope.  Paul reminds us that hope has two partners, faith and love, and together these three can change the world. Hope may not be the greatest according to the apostle, but hope breaks into our present reality and points us to a better future. Much of that may only be realised in the future kingdom, but that doesn't mean we do not have hope in the present and for the present. If one who advocated violence can a way of peace and reconciliation, then although the world may be lost it is not doomed and the gospel can and does change everything.

Light truly does drive out darkness.

No comments: