‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’ We read those words in the prologue to John’s version of the Gospel, where ‘the light’ refers to Christ, the life that has come into the world for all people. This is an important theme of Easter, and it becomes dramatically evident for us in the Church as we journey through Holy Week—which begins on Palm/Passion Sunday and ends on Saturday after Good Friday—towards the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning.
Recently I have been challenged to imagine afresh what all these theological ideas look like, in our everyday life. For example, many of us in our diocese have been following our bishop’s leadership in attempting to observe a Year of Reconciliation, in the world, in the church, in our families, and in our own self-awareness. So: what does ‘reconciliation’ look like? How would you know it, if you saw it today? Would it start with noticing and caring about the person with whom I am in conflict? Or even noticing that a conflict with a person or group exists in the first place, and caring about addressing it honestly? Would it mean picking up the phone and initiating a conversation? Or attending an information session and meeting and talking with someone I might never have thought about meeting before? That is, perhaps, what ‘reconciliation’ begins to look like, today.
So, back to ‘the light shines in the darkness’. If Easter Sunday really did happen, then what does it look like that that light continues to shine in the darkness, and that the darkness does not snuff it out? Because there continues to be plenty of darkness around us, and even within us. There’s a kind of darkness that can itself be overcome by light, the tables turned: ‘Kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight’, as Bruce Cockburn once put it. As the Light transforms us and the Spirit gives us courage, we gather together in solidarity against the systems that continue to put some down in order to benefit others. In that way, today, the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.
But there’s also a kind of darkness that just is. The cancer diagnosis that comes out of the blue. The life ripped from home and family and heritage by the convulsions of war or hatred. The pain and darkness that is the aftermath of abuse. And so on. In this kind of darkness, it is the presence of the light that matters. And, frankly, that looks just like my presence, your presence, alongside those who walk the path in the darkness. That’s what it looks like to live like Easter really happened.
[Image: Iona Abbey, Scotland, 2006]