Saturday, April 11, 2009

From Darkness to Light

A meditation on an Easter Vigil

The Light of Christ!
Thanks be to God!

Our modern world is different from what has gone before in two ways: life is noisy and life is bright.

It is noisy because we never have to go anywhere without bringing along some kind of music, talk, or just plain noise. One can hardly buy a car without even a basic radio in it, and we do not go far without turning it on. The sound of our media and our machines are so basic to our life, that we hardly notice them.

Our life is bright because we can light up everything from roadways to basements at the touch of a switch. Even as we walk in the woods, we can carry a bright light to lead the way at very little cost.

I remember my first overnight camping trip as a Boy Scout, when I discovered just how dark and just how silent the forest can be. Sitting around a campfire singing songs and telling scary stories was my first introduction to that ancient way of keeping the night and the silence at bay. We forget that this was the way of life for most of our history.
The night and the silence represent the places where uncertainty, separation and even evil lurk.
While we seem to have kept the night and the silence at bay with electricity, we have only disguised with technology the silence and the night within us. For all of our streetlights and stereos, we still encounter dark places where uncertainty, separation and even evil lurk.

The Light of Christ!
Thanks be to God!

Imagine a dark room, filled with people.
Gathered are people of every walk of life. Some are rich, some poor. Some are old, and some are young. Some came with friends and loved ones, others wandered in alone; some seem contented, and for others, their troubles have sculpted their faces with deep lines of worry. The people here have brought with them their hopes and their deep fears. They have gathered with their deepest darkness and their loudest silence. And they wait.
Every day we meet folks like these, in our travels, our work or in our play. They may even be us. People who want to do their very best and often falling short of their hopes; who have known both joy and sorrow. People waiting for light, purpose, meaning and hope.

The Light of Christ!
Thanks be to God!

Then light appears. This light, which peels back the darkness, is the light of Christ. It is the light of Jesus who died and is now alive. Not a resuscitated wounded body. Risen from the dead. What was once a corpse is now alive, Jesus paving the way for us. As the light approaches, we find that all those failed hopes, those deeply creased worries, and those relentless insecurities no longer stand between us and God. In this light, the power of sin is vanquished. In this light the barriers between neighbors fall away. In this light we can begin to be the persons God has created us to be. In this light, the coldness of our hearts becomes warmth.

Christ is risen from the dead! He has entered our hearts with hope, humility and triumph. All those very real concerns that we brought into that dark room no longer have final power over us. We can begin to live in expectant, joyful hope.

Easter faith is that this little shred of Light shared with each of us—the Light of Christ—is more than enough to dispel whatever darkness we face.

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth,
bright with a glorious splendor,

for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

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