No Darkness

January 2, 2022/John 1:1-18

The darkness was thick, heavy.  Like a piece of wool wrapped over the eyes.  The kind of darkness that is darker than the dark of the night when the lamp is suddenly extinguished.  Complete darkness.  No glimmer, flicker, flash of light to be seen.

The darkness was total, complete.  No sunshine to signal daybreak.  No starlight to signal night.  No reflection of moonlight.  No candle glow.

The darkness was overpowering.  Nothing shattered it.  Nothing erased it.  The world stood utterly still, afraid to move, afraid to speak.

***

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good (Gen. 1:1-4).

Light.  The very first thing created by God, when the creation began.  Light.  Good light. 

And there with God, in that empty space, the Spirit blowing across the waters, was the One who would be called Light.  The light they created together – the Three in One and One in Three – would rest at night, when the darkness would settle over the world.  But the light of the One called Light would never rest, never go out, never cycle through the shift from dark night into brilliant day.  This One, this light, “shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).

***

And yet, we still allow the darkness to creep close, to reach its tentacles into our well-lit lives.  Of course there are those times when the artificial light we surround ourselves with – the lamplight and candles, the can lights and spotlights – go out.  Power outages brought about by tornadoes and blizzards, by power companies canceling power for those who cannot pay the bill, or just a simple bulb flashing dark, reaching the end of its time of illumination.  But that’s not the darkness we need worry about.  The darkness from which we should flee back into the arms of the Light is the darkness we create ourselves.

Darkness of spirit, voicing only criticism and engaging only in conflict, never bringing the light of compromise or understanding or just listening.  Darkness of mind, thinking only the worst of those around us, distrustful of institutions and people and even ourselves.  Darkness of heart – the deepest darkness – a darkness that embitters the soul and blinds the eye to even the most brilliant light.

Even that darkness did not overcome the Light.  That darkness might blind us, for a time.  Might settle over a community or a government or a country, for a time.  Yet even that darkness fades when the Light enters, a light so powerful it reaches into the most remote corners, the most bitter spirits, the hardest hearts.  This light warms our hearts as we stand beside the cold grave on a blustery winter day.  This light creeps in and obliterates the darkness.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

***

The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).  Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us in the form of a little baby.  The only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.[1]

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and his friends set out on a quest to destroy the One Ring created by the Dark Lord Sauron.  The Ring captivated any who held it, dragging them under its power and plunging them into darkness.  As they journeyed into the land of Mordor, where the Dark Lord reigned, the inky darkness crept into their very hearts and filled them with fear.  In that horrible place, it was light – the light of pure spirits, the light of those dedicated to the good in the world – that kept them safe.  Tolkien writes, “Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures.”[2]

The Light has come, and no depth of darkness can cast a shadow over it.  No threat of darkness can overpower it.  No hint of darkness can cause this Light to flicker, to flash, to go out.  The darkness will try.  It will try to blind us to all that is good and true and right.  But it will not prevail.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5).


[1] Nicene Creed, 1.2

[2] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

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