Spirit & Life

People of the Light

Psalm 23, John 9: 1-41
Ephesians 5:8-14

You yourselves used to be in the darkness, but since you have become the Lord’s people, you are in the light. So you must live like people who belong to the light, for it is the light[a] that brings a rich harvest of every kind of goodness, righteousness, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the worthless things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light. (It is really too shameful even to talk about the things they do in secret.) And when all things are brought out to the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed; for anything that is clearly revealed becomes light. That is why it is said,
“Wake up, sleeper, and rise from death, and Christ will shine on you.”

Shadows and light have always been part of our human narratives across cultures and time. Shadows and ‘dark times’ describe difficult experiences, grief-stricken moments and our most hurtful times, as described in Psalm 23. It offers a metaphor for when we do not understand, (“I can’t quite see that”), or when we feel left out (“I have been left in the dark about that”). Misunderstanding and the unknown lead to fear, grief, and anxiety. It often leads to a self-centred focus for safety or perhaps self-survival. This is not always healing though. It can lead to isolation or a ‘don’t care’ factor in our daily living.
St John of the Cross named it as the dark night of the soul. In John, Jesus revealed God’s Light to the man living with blindness, through a ritual of ‘cleansing’ and grace so that he moved from the edges of the community into inclusion in God’s family. His joy was shared with all whom he met, as he was bursting with the ‘brightness’, clarity and understanding in which he now lived. In Ephesians, the community were called to live as the children of light, where they understand what it meant to live in the Way of Jesus, because faith innately helps us to know what is ‘goodness, righteousness and truth.’ As we witness turmoil, conflict, disasters, violence and exclusion, we often experience the ‘dark night of the soul’.
Jesus asks us to listen and see. Where does God reveal light? How is the shadow lifted in the midst of the grief? Where can the cloak of exclusion be lifted so that the other is seen?
Jesus shows us how to love. How can our actions be healing? When do we challenge and speak out? When do journey alongside?
Jesus calls us to not hide the light, but reveal it so that it shines across the shadowed ’valleys’, it allows us to see the rocky pathway that must be travelled, it highlights what hurts and what comforts, and it opens our sleepy eyes so that we attend to the shadows to reveal the Light found in the Way of Christ.

Light to my soul,
I have fallen into a safe slumber
where I do not wish to see the reality around me.
Forgive my shading of my inner eyes,
for I long to turn them to your Light.
Draw off the blanket of self-content.
Strengthen my resolve
to reveal what brings shadows and darkness,
Enlighten my thinking and being
So that I understand, and seek your way.
Enable me to draw others to your Way
that brings warming, healing light at the darkest experiences.
Grow in me the faith of Light, of Learning, of Wisdom, of Love.
Amen, Amen, Amen

© Rev Anne Hewitt 14/03/2023
This reflection may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.

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