John 3:14-21 (NRSV)
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
'Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.'
I want to love light. I want to bask in it, to feel its warmth. I want to walk paths illuminated by it. I want to reflect it. And the first moments of the Gospel of John give me such hope - hope that Light came into the world and that the darkness did not overcome it. Simply lovely.
But John, as it turns out, won't let us get off too easily. A few chapters later, he reminds us that "The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light." He continues drawing hard and fast lines about who loves light and truth and who loves darkness and evil. And while I'm tempted to tidily label folks as one or the other, you and I both know that life is hardly that plain. If only it were that simple.
The truth is we are people of light and darkness, rays of light and long shadows of despair. We look toward the dawn for the future it brings and covet the sunset for the avoidance of truth it secures. And just when we realize that great, cosmic battle of light and dark, of good and evil, is the same pull we each feel, the Psalmist reminds us to give thanks to God, for "God is good, because God's faithful love lasts forever!"
So in the darkness and in the light, in the shadows and the sunshine, we will give thanks. For through it all, God is with us.
O God, may I bask in your Light and carry it with me through the darkness. Amen.