The Light of Hope
Houses, garden, streets and shops are ablaze with light; artificial light, glaring, twinkling, creating a celebratory atmosphere driving the dark away. There is no artificial light, no on off switch to drive away the dark of death or despair or human frailty. The Christmas hope is ‘ the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it’. From the lighting of the first Advent Candle to the passing on of light at Candlemass this period of the church’s year seeks and meditates, is thankful for and celebrates the Christ who is both Light and Life. Staying in the Light is the whole purpose of the practice of Christian prayer and worship.
At our Baptism we are commissioned to ‘shine as a Light in the world to the glory of God the Father.’ The prayer of deliverance at Holy Baptism prays that we may be ‘delivered from the powers of darkness and be led in the light and obedience of Christ.’ This short phrase distils the wisdom and experience of Christian discipleship: being a Christian means living in the reality of darkness in ‘Light and Obedience of Christ.’ Christ is the Light: to be in the Light to is to be in relationship with Him. Christ in His love and grace will give us light, this is both a corporate and an individual gift. This light is an inner light that need not always be felt or experienced. To present ourselves to Christ dwelling in the Sacrament of the Altar is to come into His Light: it is simple matter of placing ourselves in His presence. The same is true of deliberately placing ourselves in the Lord’s presence in silence: trusting in his presence and brought into relationship with Him by our desire for His transforming and healing Light. We are mistaken if we believe ‘ nothing is going on.’ Being with Christ in this way does always bring illumination; not a sudden light bulb moment, but a gradual dawning of understanding and changes in the heart.
Scripture is full of Light – it is as the Psalmist sings a ‘lamp to your feet’ and ‘in your light we shall see light.’ Anyone endeavouring to live a Christian life that does not engage with Scripture is keeping themselves in the dark. There are so many ways to switch on this Light. Reading schemes abound, and there are wonderful resources on the Internet – including ways to listen. Ask someone who should know. If you have given up trying start again; if you are in a rut with your present practice make a change. These Words ‘Truth and they are Life’.
We also dwell in the Light when we are in fellowship with other Christians, not only in worship, but also in study and prayer. In sharing our journey with others we give and exchange Light. There is a huge difference between one person holding a candle in the dark and ten. May the ‘Dayspring from on high’, the Infant who is the Light of the World, the Star the Magi followed and the ‘Light to Lighten the Gentiles’ guide us all to the city of Eternal Light.