December 24, 2021 - Shining Bright - A Reflection on John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

A few years ago, I went to a little place a few miles off Coimbatore in India to make a retreat. It was the rainy season, and there would be power outages caused by short circuits or a tree coming down on electrical cables. For a while, I’d be in total darkness until I lit a candle or two, but although these were enough to brighten up the place a bit, they weren’t enough to really illuminate it, and I had to be careful walking about because the visibility was poor. 

So, what’s the point of the story? We need light to see clearly. We need it every more to move around; otherwise, we risk stumbling and falling. Today, although we have electricity globally, which stays on, for the most part, there is another kind of darkness that saturates the world: spiritual darkness. And one of the reasons we are so lost is simply because most of us cannot see.

Jesus is the light of the world. And, as we read today, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”

After his death and resurrection, he ascended into heaven, but he remains here with us, in the heart of every believer. And, as a result, we become like little lights, and the closer we are to Jesus, the brighter we burn. The world needs this light, and we are it. We are fast approaching the end of the year. We may not have shone very brightly, but that’s done. A new year begins next week, giving us opportunities to start over. 

Let me leave you with the words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Shine bright.