It was a time of feasting in the city of Jerusalem.
The feast of Tabernacles and 8-day festival of music and dancing, food and friendship. An 8-day party!
A time when the Jewish people remembered God’s provision in the wilderness and looked forward to the day when all people will flow into Jerusalem to worship God.
It was at the end of the first day of the feast and the whole city was in darkness apart from one lamp in the heart of the great temple. Gradually, one by one, torches and lamps were lit from this one source until the light spread out across the city until the whole place was illuminated. A blaze of light and colour.
And then a silence fell over the people as a controversial teacher stood in front of them and declared
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but, will have the light of life.”
The crowd were stunned, shocked, amazed and angry. Who was this man who could dare to say this?
Okay, to be honest, I don’t know if that is exactly what happened or not. There is, perhaps a bit of artistic license in my telling of the story but the basis of it, is what happened at that Feast of Tabernacles and Jesus said those words, they are recorded in John’s Gospel, chapter 8.
I was thinking about them today.
As I drove into my office this morning I was listening to the news on the radio. It was full of the atrocities in Syria, the problems in London and the political difficulties that are happening in the world. As I listened to the radio, I was acutely aware of the power and strength of the darkness that is in the world at the moment.
As I sat with my Bible I re-read John 8 and I also read some, familiar, words from John 1
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
(John 1 vs. 5)
I said in Church, on Sunday, that one of the major problems in our world today is not so much the presence of evil but, the loss of hope. As a Christian, I should not only be aware of the hope that Christ brings into my life but I should, must, be willing to carry that light out into the darkness of the world. The famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi says;
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Those words became my prayer today, may they be yours too.