The light shines in the darkness

First published 27th March 2016
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it.

These words are equally valid translations of a verse from the opening chapter of Johns gospel. Although often associated with Christmas they feel particularly significant as we come to Good Friday and Easter Day, the holiest days of the Christian calendar.

One of my favourite poems by Steve Turner may be called Christmas is really for the children but it is primarily about Easter. If you don't know it, you can read it here.

Johns claim that the light had overcome the darkness was about God's coming to us in the human being, Jesus. And the reality of this only came into sharp focus through the lens of Good Friday and Easter Day. Understanding (comprehending), what kind of God could be at work - and what kind of work God could be doing through such suffering and cruelty - is a treasury we continue to quarry for its riches in our own day.

Like a jewel, what we see has many facets, and different dimensions of what God has done in Christ catch our attention and have deeper significance at different times and seasons of our personal or national circumstances.

I wonder which of these feel most precious to you today: experiencing the power of forgiveness, knowing you are beloved and belong to God, being given fresh meaning and purpose, receiving strength in suffering, discovering hope in despair, sensing victory over the power of evil, or recognizing your identity as a citizen of heaven as well as earth? Each are facets which shine in technicolour at differing moments of our life and all find their anchor in the God revealed through Jesus.

The Friday and the Sunday feel so very different but are part of a whole; breaking the hold of death and violence, sin and death through trust, obedience, courage and divine action. The wounds inflicted on Good Friday are transformed but still very visible on the body of the risen Lord of Easter Day. This feels another aspect which the darkness might struggle to comprehend surely these ought to be wiped out not hallowed?

Back in December, just after the atrocities in Paris, those words from Johns gospel - The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it were written in felt tip on a whiteboard at the top of the escalator at Tooting Bec tube station. As deep shadows are once again cast over Europe following the terrible events in Brussels we would do well to remember the moving words of Monsieur Antoine Leiris. He wrote this to the terrorists.

If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in his image, each bullet in my wifes body would have been a wound in his heart. Therefore I will not give you the gift of hating you.

The cross of Good Friday and the empty grave of Easter Day reveal a Saviour who continues to transform suffering and hatred and provides a light which can never be extinguished by violence or death. May that light shine upon you and the people of Brussels this Easter.

Bishop Lee

Easter 2016

This is the text of an Easter message broadcast on Radio Wiltshire

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