In the beginning was the WORD and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was light in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. — John 1:1-8
As I write this, we are two days away from an election that has been filled with darkness and threats of darkness ahead. If this person wins or if that party wins … then picture whatever “worst-case scenario” you can imagine … and rest assured it WILL happen. The news is flooded with darkness and portents of darkness. We may think that this is unique to the 21st Century, but it was no different in Jesus’ time. There was no voting or democratic process in those days, for sure. But there certainly was injustice. Rome ruled with an iron fist, and there were no second chances. The people of Jesus’ time understood threats and darkness and fear. The early church understood that as well.
In the middle of all of that, the Gospel of John begins with a profoundly beautiful description and promise. God’s word is Jesus, and Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness and he is the life that brings life to all of us. More than that, John is a witness to this light. His job was to show us the way to the light which will bring life. John will point the way toward hope when hopelessness abounds on all sides.
Imagine with me, for a minute, if the scripture named you to be the witness instead of John. If it read, “There was a person who was sent from God and she was named Carol or Kacyiah or Nancy or Gabriela or Ann… or you.” Or if it read, “There was a person sent from God and his name was Jeffrey or José or or Peter or Hassan or Bob… or you.” Imagine that for a minute! What would it mean for you to be a witness for light and life today? How would you point the way toward Jesus’ light in the midst of today’s darkness?
I don’t think there has ever been one simple answer to that question — it looks different for each of us, and it’s different at different times in our lives. For some it might mean engaging the political system with energy and hope and vision for the future. For others it could mean engaging in prayer as our world and our nation face real challenges. For others it might look like caring for grandchildren — raising the next generation while parents serve prison terms or are deployed military personnel. It might look like caring for our most senior citizens with dignity and compassion. It might mean remembering that every time we speak or act we are (in fact) witnessing to the one who brings light and life into the world and into our lives. You and I… we are living testimony to God’s Word made flesh.
When I used to take youth groups on work trips, one part of our covenant stated that we each agreed to refrain from doing anything that would damage the reputation of our group. That can cover a lot of ground with teenagers, but it was a simple way to remind us all that our individual actions have an impact on the whole group. We are always a living testimony.
Whoever wins the 2022 mid-term election, there will be anger, fear, portents of darkness, accusations and gnashing of teeth. In the aftermath, I’m hoping to remember that God’s light shines in this darkness, and that Christ’s light shines through each one of us. The darkness will not, cannot, overcome the power of God’s light and love.