The light shines in the darkness

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We just celebrated Christmas, the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. I ask you to consider reading and praying with the Prologue of John’s Gospel (verses 1-14) as we begin another New Year.
The Prologue is as deeply theological as it is beautiful. John the Evangelist proclaims the Incarnation of God, the most fundamental truth of Christianity, in the immortal words of his Prologue as he makes the connection between Jesus Christ and the Logos or Word of God.
Between the beautiful nativity stories of Matthew and Luke and the Gospel of John, there lies the great paradox of the Christian faith, the paradox of the Incarnation – God breaking into our human history, as a man.
John tackles some pretty big truths in his Prologue: the existence of the Logos or Word of God before creation; the distinctness of the Father and the Son, as well as the truth that they are one; the struggle between light and darkness; and the power of light over darkness.
It is the power of the Light of Christ over the power of sin and evil that we often take for granted. We forget that the answer, the truth is found right under our noses in the Scriptures as John tells us in verses 4 and 5: “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.”
There is no darkness of evil, sin, human pride or weakness that can overcome Jesus, the light of the world. Why is it then, that we live our lives as if this is not true?
I like the story told about the Rabbi who asked his disciples the following question, “How do you know when the darkness has been overcome, when the dawn has arrived?”
One of the disciples answered, “When you can look into the distance and tell the difference between a cow and a deer, then you know dawn has arrived.”  “Close,” the Rabbi said, “but not quite.”
Another disciple ventured a response, “When you can look into the distance and distinguish a peach blossom from an apple blossom, then you know that the darkness has been overcome.”
“Not bad,” the Rabbi said, “not bad! But the correct answer is slightly different. When you can look on the face of any man or any woman and know immediately that it is God’s child and your brother or sister, then you know that the darkness has been overcome, that the Day star has appeared.”
Is this the year that you and I are going to step a little farther out of the darkness of our pride and sinfulness? When we do, are we ready to make a place for Jesus to live in our hearts?
John says in verse 11, “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.”
Is this what we want to be said of us? I don’t and I hope you don’t, either!
If there was ever a time in our world that needed strong disciples of Jesus, it is now.
Earlier in December, when we gathered to invite the needy of our communities at Caring and Sharing, Pastor Carl Rhodes challenged us all to look into the faces of the folks as they came through. A good, but difficult, challenge it is – to really look into the faces of people with whom we share this planet.
As the good Rabbi said, when we can look into the faces of those around us and see them as children of God, then we will know, as John says in verse 12, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
As we usher in a new year, may it be one of light, compassion and grace for all of us as we strive to be worthy of the name “Christian” that we bear.