Sunday, 26 December 2010

light into darkness into light

Rembrandt's 'the stoning of St Stephen', 1625
The way in which Christmas has fallen this year means that straight after the festivities and joyful celebrations of yesterday, we move immediately into the much less jolly suggested lectionary readings for today.  One track takes us to the stoning of Stephen - first Christian martyr.

The alternative track moves us from the celebration of the baby in the manger to the slaughter of the innocents by Herod.

Slaughter of the Innocents - Duccio Di Buoninsegna

It is odd timing.
and definitely discombobulating. 

Through Advent the build up of hope, the sense of expectation, of light in the darkness - of light defeating the darkness - led us to that blazing star hovering over a stable in Bethlehem.  Choruses of angels proclaimed the birth of the Messiah; shepherds and sages looked upon the baby with wonder.
For a brief moment in time, the light shone and fearful hearts were cheered. 
And then, in a fingersnap of time, the darkness seemed to descend again.

Is that it?
It feels a little like the police officer who tells onlookers:
'move along now, nothing here to see.'
Perhaps this is where faith comes into play?
We move from darkness to light to darkness.
Perhaps the glimpses of light are like stepping stones of hope along the way, that keep the fires of faith burning: sometimes a flicker, sometimes a steadier, brighter flame.
We move from darkness to light to darkness... but we do come back to light, and therein is the hope, the faith, that this is not all there is:
the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.


Freda said...

Ah but we move back to light again. Sadly life is a mixture always of dark times and light times. May you have many light in the coming new year.

Nik said...

oh totally agree Freda, re. the moving back to light... we do come back to light and for that I'm very thankful and stay hopeful :)
All the best for 2011