And This Life Was the Light

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At the beginning God expressed himself.

That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning.

All creation took place through him, and none took place without him.

In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind.

The light still shines in the darkness

and the darkness has never put it out.

(John 1:1-5 Phillips)

 

I’ve heard that glory is however God chooses to express himself.

When the light of Jesus shines in dark places, when forgotten dreams and shattered hopes spring to life, when love flickers in a heart grown cold, when the beauty of creation glows in unexpected places, he is showing us his glory.

Ecce Homo: Behold the Man

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I had something else in mind when I started writing an entry for Good Friday. I was impressed by the phrase “the time when the power of darkness reigns” in Luke 22:52-53:
“Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”

At that particular moment, Jesus allowed himself to be taken captive by those powers that worked in the dark, away from the eyes of the few who would insist on proper protocol, and accountability and the checks and balances that are meant to thwart the misuse of power.

This was a misuse of power.

This morning as I woke I heard: He came to set the captives free.

I’ve been too impressed by the reign of darkness. Jesus said later that his submission to those who would kill him was voluntary.

Love is always voluntary, or it is not love.

This morning the words I heard, “He came to set the captives free,” struck me with the full beauty of irony. Jesus became a captive so he could set the captives free. Jesus died to overcome death.

Jesus became a captive so he could set the captives free. Jesus died to overcome death.

Jesus died so he could overcome death.

I found a photo I took in Jerusalem at Lithostrotos (Roman Paving) under the Convent of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man – Pilates words when he handed Jesus over to be crucified). In a dark low-ceiling room now underground, it is thought to be the place where Jesus’ trial was held and where the Roman soldiers tortured him.

Our guide told us it was unusually quiet that day. I sat on a stone bench and sang, “My Jesus, I love Thee… If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now,” with tears streaming down my face.

Of all the places we visited in Israel this place had the most emotional impact on me. I could feel the darkness, and yet I could also feel the light that rose out of this powerful yet powerless environment that once echoed with the sound of whips and jibes, knowing that it is by his stripes that we are healed.

His wounds became our health.

Jesus entered darkness to bring light. He became a man of sorrow that we might share the joy set before him. He gave up his liberty to set us free. He became sin that we might be free from sin.

Behold the Man

Living in the Light

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As you live this new life, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage.

You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light.

For we must never forget that he rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light.

(Colossians 1: 11-14 Phillips)

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The Graceful Icicle

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I bobbed around changing position, but the light kept getting in my eyes. I have a thing about natural light and my desk is near the window. I’ve set up the computer screen in front so it faces away from the light and remains readable. But for a brief time during the shortest days of the year the low sun will shine in my eyes in the afternoon. Then I have to lower the shade.

Yesterday the light was almost blinding. I got up to see what was causing it when I saw the sun shining through an icicle on the corner of the porch roof. I grabbed my camera, of course.

It’s not a talent I asked for, but I can tell the difference between a depression-induced hallucination, a vision, and the sun behind frozen water that had dripped from an eaves trough that is probably blocked again. This sight still caught my attention.

The icicle, which I barely noticed before, was, in a way, a reminder of failure (we really should have cleaned out those eaves before the snow fell) and the cold cruel world out there that took away all my colourful flowers and froze the water pipes this week (another  pain to fix).

Then light shone through failure and coldness and turned it into a glowing sword.

Sometimes I feel like a failure, done in by procrastination yet again. Sometimes my heart is cold in response to a hard season and I think all I can do is hang in there until circumstances change. I don’t feel particularly effective in making a difference in this world.

But this is what I saw. When I am subject to the light shining through unguarded transparency, without any reliance on my own brilliance, I am transformed. That’s grace.

Graham Cooke says grace empowers us to become what God sees when he looks at us. His grace shining through and entering our very being transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary.

This is amazing grace. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

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A Way of Seeing

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This way of seeing our Father in everything makes life one long thanksgiving and gives a rest of heart, and, more than that, a gayety of spirit, that is unspeakable.

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

Photography as art is a way of seeing. A photographer’s outlook is revealed in the way she or he chooses to frame a photo, and which aspect of the scene before them they choose to focus upon. The position they take when capturing an image influences what others will see later.

Sometimes, when I am aware of being in deep shadow in my life I realize I need to get up and change my perspective before I will perceive the light. Intentional focus on aspects for which to be thankful and intentional praise for blessings past, present and future is a way of changing the angle and re-framing circumstances. Yes, there is shadow, but ah, the light!

“On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds again.

Jesus: I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.”

(John 8:12 The Voice)

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