From darkness to light
Updated: Mar 24, 2020
Carrying through from Epiphany into Lent, we have been clinging to images of Christ as light: "I am the Light of the world”; “In him was life, and the life was the light of all people”; “In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us”; the light of the gospel [is] the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
In three crisp stanzas, the stirring hymn by Charles Wesley, "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies," not only hails Christ as the true and only light but heightens that revelation by taking us to the dark side of the moon in stanza 2--which is where many of may find themselves now:
2 Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day's return,
till thy mercy's beams I see,
till they inward light impart,
glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
In the depths of affliction we can lose our awareness of Jesus’ presence. Cling instead to the conviction that Christ is with us, always. In our last worship service together we lifted this prayer in song: “Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness!” Wesley’s third stanza tells us exactly how that takes place:
3 Visit then this soul of mine,
pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, radiancy divine,
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.
Isn’t that the hope of every soul on earth right now? Although we are pretty certain it will get worse before it gets better, we will come through this worldwide crisis. When we do, we will find that we are renewed in our hearts and minds by a rediscovery of all the blessings of life that we have taken for granted—going to work, sharing stories with co-workers, taking coffee breaks together, taking our work to the local coffee shop for a change of scenery, going to the movies, going to concerts, going out to eat. Who would have thought we would be deprived for an extended time of these simple pleasures?
Let’s take this time of confinement to thank God for the grace that continues to rain down on us in the great gift of God’s Son, for us. “Stone walls do not a prison make when one has a song in his soul,” someone once wrote. Never lose the life-giving gift of song.
1 Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true and only light,
Sun of righteousness, arise,
triumph o'er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.
Sing along in worship with the choir and congregation of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Worcester, MA. The organist is my friend John Weit, who now serves as the ELCA's assistant to the bishop, executive for worship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPU7OwmKjyo