Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
John 8:12-14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus the Light of the World
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13 Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
My mother didn’t have electricity until sometime after my parents married—neither in the home she grew up in nor the first house my parents had. Once she had electricity, for the rest of her life she always had a night light in her room. She said it was because as a child she remembers on a moonless, cloudy night it was so dark she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. She was afraid she had gone blind!
It’s hard for us to appreciate complete darkness now in our time and place, but in antiquity, darkness had a particularly powerful meaning. The imagery of light overcoming darkness for people who lived in a pre-electricity era was much more powerful. Darkness was palpable. It was threatening—especially walking in darkness, not knowing what’s ahead or even what the next step would bring.
Are you afraid of the darkness? If you are an adult, you may be saying, “Well, of course not; don’t be ridiculous! Afraid of the darkness? When I was a kid, yeah. But, now?” This morning I want you to think for just a moment about your answer to this question: what are you most afraid of? Death? Hopelessness? Chaos? Violence? Meaninglessness? Ignorance? Evil? Judgment? Falsehood? Depression? Failure? If you are afraid of any of those things, then you are afraid of darkness, because they are darkness. Look through the pages of scripture and you will find that darkness is consistently the symbol for that which is most feared in our lives: Death, Hopelessness, Chaos, Violence, Meaninglessness, Ignorance, Evil, Judgment, Falsehood, Depression, Failure, etc. Afraid of the dark? Probably not. Afraid of darkness? Yes. With a very few exceptions, everyone is afraid of darkness.
Darkness as a metaphor is found way beyond the Bible, of course, in texts ancient and contemporary and in common speech in every culture. Joseph Conrad wrote a short novella about power and human evil set in the remote jungles of 19th century colonial Africa which he entitled “Heart of Darkness.” Winston Churchill spoke of his nation’s “darkest hour.” Many people speak of it being a dark time in our world. Darkness. It is fearsome—and the fear of it seems to be universal.
The good news of the coming of light to our darkness is powerfully expressed in the opening of the gospel of John. Listen to these words as he speaks of the coming of Jesus:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Hear the good news: there is light in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. In our scripture for today there is this good news: Jesus is the Light of the World and whoever follows Jesus will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster