Light is stronger than darkness.
I’ve noticed this in my own life. At home, I may be at my desk in the living room trying to read. I have the desk light on, but sometimes it still seems dark if no other lights are lit. But if I go to the kitchen and turn on the kitchen light, there is more light across the room at the desk.
This amazes me.
I would expect that one desk light to be sufficient. The way I explain it, in my own unscientific way, is that when other lights are lit, there is less darkness for my desk light to have to absorb. There is more light around me to brighten my life.
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In the New Testament, we often hear the images of light and darkness. “This is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all” (I John 1: 5). The light is the life of God. Walking in the light is living the life that the Lord calls us to live. It is living in relationship with God revealed to us in his Risen Son, Jesus Christ. This relationship is the gift of Easter.
This relationship is a new covenant of reconciliation. You see, we had been estranged from God – separated from God by our sins. We were in darkness. The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer defines sin as “seeking our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.”
When we sin we are separated from God. And where there is no light, there is surely darkness.
But the gift of Easter is that through Jesus, God reached out to us and reconciled us to himself. He offered us the gift of forgiveness of our sins, even while we were still in sin. Through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we, as God’s people, have been given the gift of a living relationship with God. We have been invited to live in the light. It is this light that leads to eternal life.
We are reminded of this gift of forgiveness in the lives of Jesus’ first disciples. Simon Peter, Jesus’ friend, denied even knowing him. Jesus’ disciples, his closest followers, desert him on the night of his arrest. And yet Jesus forgave them. When he met them on that first Easter, he did not condemn them. Instead he reached out in reconciliation – “Peace be with you,” he said. Jesus provided what they needed the most. And from that reconciliation – from that forgiveness – they were empowered to serve.
Like those disciples, we also need forgiveness. We sin.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). We have turned away from God and followed our own ways. We have separated ourselves from God. This separation has brought brokenness and destruction into our lives and into the lives of others. This separation is the darkness that threatens our very lives. Sometimes we wonder if there is any hope.
But First John reminds us that we need not give up hope. Our God is forgiving and waiting for us to turn around - to turn from our sin - and return to him. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Our God offers us a new start. All we need do is turn to him. When we turn, he is with us – ready to forgive, ready to help us make a new start, ready to help us let go of the darkness and welcome in the light.
This light is stronger than any darkness. When we let him into our lives, his light, his love, will allow our lives to shine so brightly that we will then be empowered to help his light shine forth in our world.
The Rev. Sally Franklin is the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, located at 501 Pine St. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.