Chaplain's thought for the week
Revd Tom considers the symbol of light
A popular reading during the Christmas Season is the prologue from the Gospel of John, which contains these words: ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’ Light is one of the most powerful religious symbols. The Bible uses the image of light for God over and over again: ‘God is my light and my salvation’; ‘God is light, and in him there is no darkness’; ‘Jesus is the light of the world’.
At this time of year, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we put up lights outside our houses, on our trees and in our villages and towns. They’re a symbol of hope: hope that ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’
Light is a deep symbol of goodness – and it has been ever since human beings started telling stories. We talk about the ‘dark side’ or ‘light side’. We’ve seen this most recently in sagas like the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter. In all of those stories, it’s always the human hope that light and goodness will win in the end. That’s the hope we see expressed in the Bible that darkness will not overcome the light.
Perhaps this Christmas we might reflect on whether we are a source of light in the world? As we celebrate Christmas this year – as we light candles and put lights on a tree – will we allow light to penetrate any darkness within? Will we allow light to shine from us?
There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view. Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there. The cave had never seen light. The word ‘light’ meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what ‘light’ might be.
Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit. When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted, because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.
Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness, and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime, because the sun had never seen darkness.
So the day came, and the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what ‘darkness’ would be like. Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, ‘Where is the darkness?’