Last Sunday I posted on our role as light of the world. It is a heavy idea (in the Hebrew sense of the word, where glory connotes heaviness, hence the expression, "the weight of glory") and does not sit easily in my mind. Today, as is so often the case, we encounter the rest of the story. A brief explanation.
In traditional churches which follow ancient practice, there is a lectionary. Lections are readings (hence dyslexia is malfunctioning reading) and the way a lectionary works is there is a cycle where readings from the Bible are assigned to each day. There is a rotating two year cycle in my church (Daily Office Year 1&2) which tells me what we are to read at our daily prayer service. Right now we are reading through Genesis and John in the morning. A year ago we were reading Isaiah and Mark. There is also a Sunday eucharist lectionary, which has a three year cycle (A,B,C). Matthew, Mark and Luke rotate (with John used at different times of the year in all three). So it happens that Sunday's Gospel from Matthew and today's reading, from John, will end up on the same week every now and then. This is one of those times.
John 8:12fff. I am the Light of the World. No one who follows me will ever walk in darkness for he has the light of life. One wonders exactly what this means. I have said it many times, it is one of those verses which I have to memory. As I ponder it, though, I do wonder...
Jesus reveals God to us (as He says later in this chapter, I know where I came from and where I am going). I believe that is the Light. There are many who think that God is unknowable (true) and therefore whatever one believes is equally valid (false). God is unknowable, but He has revealed Himself in Jesus. The key is He only reveals to us what we need to know. So, as Archbishop Carey once said when I heard him preach, "We know precious little about God, but what we do know is precious." Much of what we know about God is the precious Light we find in Jesus. He is THE Light.
On the other hand, 8:12 does not mean that we are free from error or sin. Even prayerful, committed Christians still make errors and still commit sins. There is no one preserved (leaving aside debates on the Virgin Mary at this time). Even if I pray and read the Bible I can still get it wrong (I know from experience). This is not a failure of the Holy Spirit or the fault of God. It is how things are.
WE do not take darkness seriously enough. Much of the culture thinks the world is fine. They think the way things are "naturally" is the way God intended it. I think this is an error. You and I have never lived in a world where there was no darkness. Speculation about Adam and Eve and "before the Fall" is just that, speculation. The light Who is Jesus has been in the world, and there remains a bright witness to Him (in the Gospels and in the church--ironically Romans 12 addresses that in tonight's assigned reading--we, though many, are one body in Christ). We are not left lightless in the dark... But the dark is real and we cannot see too far into it. We cannot penetrate it. Enough to be in the light we have (Who is Jesus).
When the church thinks it is inerrant it becomes bold, then arrogant, then it falls. It loses its sense of penitence and humility. In times like that it is required that we repent and return to God. We have a light within us, that is true. We also have the perfect light, Who is Jesus. Follow Him, each day. Follow Him to be in Light.