“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5
There’s a pretty good chance that you, like me, have recently head the opening verses of John’s Gospel read as the Church has celebrated the incarnation this Christmas. The words are familiar, perhaps too familiar, to us – the Word being God, the Word dwelling among us, grace and truth.
Yet in the midst of these familiar words, there is something about verse 5 that has captured me anew. It’s something that I wonder if I actually believe. I wonder if it is one of those truths that have passed through my ears many times, igniting a variety of neurons, but never actually sunk any deeper into my being. This truth is simple, and few of us Christians need to be reminded of it, but perhaps we need to reflect on it: “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Here is what Rob Des Cotes, one of the leaders of an organization called Imago Dei said about this passage in a recent newsletter:
“God somehow co-exists with even the most profane aspects of our humanity. He dwells in the midst of our basest instincts. He skirts on the edges of our sins, dances in and around our iniquities. Nothing impedes His grace. Though sin persists in us, divinity is undeterred. Though our depravity is evident, Jesus continues to shepherd us towards a sanctity that somehow already dwells within.”
God dances in and around our iniquities. This isn’t how I’m used to picturing God. Most of the time, I live like my life is the dwelling of a hoarder and God, in his OCD-like perfection, would not dare to enter in. But the light shines in the darkness, and God crosses the hearth and dances past the piles of newspaper, waltzes by the clutter and cavorts by the garbage.
This is not a God who shies away, but one who knows that the darkness cannot overcome him. This is the God that Jesus showed us. It’s something I have to remind myself daily because there is far too much darkness in my life, both outside and within. But light could care less about darkness because darkness cannot touch it.
2014 may not have started with the big-bright-fresh-shiny-new start you were hoping for. Things may well be darker than they were a month ago. But let’s promise to remind each other of this: the light still shines and it will shine and that darkness, the unbearable weight we all feel in this present time, can never overcome it.