Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Consequences of Light - Christmas IV 2016

[Note: Yesterday was the Feast of John the Evangelist, but I got ahead of myself and posted about the Holy Innocents, who are actually remembered on this day. So things are a bit out of order and backwards. Welcome to my life.]

"I can't unsee that" is a common comment on social media, particularly something that is disturbing or unpleasant (which, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but that's another discussion).

Being unable to "unsee" something is, however, a two-way street. We may hold images that are unpleasant in our memory, but also the beautiful, the enlightening.

This is how it is with me, at least. And what's more, what has been enlightened, pushes back the darkness.

The Gospel of John, while having some of the best writing in the Bible, is problematic for me. John's Jesus is the most self-assured, most self-aware-as-God of the gospels. This is a triumphalist Jesus with little room for doubt or questions. (This is why, of course, that evangelistic organizations tend to hand out individual booklets of the Gospel of John.) Then there's the issue with it being most oft quoted by anti-Semites because it's written at a time when the nascent church was struggling with it's identity and separating itself from the parent religion, resulting in some easily twisted passages blaming "the Jews" for all manner of things.

I can't read the Gospel of John and not notice the problems with it

And yet it gives us so much more than problems. Like the famous opening lines:

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. 

The light of all the people. The darkness did not overcome it. I cannot unsee that.

I feel a darkness in the world right now. An encroaching shadow that would like to overcome a lot of good accomplished. At this moment in my life, I feel a foreboding unlike anything I've ever felt before.

The Gospel of John teaches me darkness cannot overcome light.

I'm looking around for some candles to light.

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