For me, the first chapter in the Gospel of John resonates above all other references to Saint John, the apostle and the evangelist. Because of this, John, for me, is the apostle of light, the apostle who shines the light on the true nature of our God and our Lord and Savior.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
On his dedicated saint’s day, we read a similar message in 1 John, a pastoral letter attributed to the apostle John written to several Gentile congregations.
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
—1 John 1:5-7
It is quite simple to reflect on light during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Lights surrounds us — twinkle lights, candle flames, shining stars atop of Christmas trees, and warm fires that glow in the comfort of many homes as night descends.
The apostle John is known as the apostle of love, as he speaks from his deep love of Jesus in his three epistles and gospel. Light and love, they bring thoughts of brightness and kindness, of peace and contentment.
I had a moment this Advent season during our nightly ritual of devotional time by our Advent wreath. It was a moment of revelation, so to speak, about the light of Jesus shining in the darkness. You see, year after year, our Advent devotional time does not seem to get quieter, does not seem to become more respected, and truly does not seem to serve as a time of spiritual growth.
The Bible reading and following short devotional is read amongst three young boys who are already fighting over who’s going to open the bag containing the nightly treat, drumming random beats on the kitchen table, boy noises that resound whenever they’re asked to sit still, and other subtle sounds of chaos.
Every year, I think that this is the year. This is the year when the message will be heard and will resonate with each of them. Not yet.
However, this year, after we walked away from the table each evening, our candles remained lit. Our youngest did not have the overwhelming urge to blow them out as soon as the candy was opened and the wrappers scattered. This has continued in this season of Christmas, and since our table is removed from the glow of the Christmas tree lights, the candles burn bright after the dining room lights have extinguished.
I have taken to sharing quick thoughts on various evenings as one son might walk by and comment on the candles still burning. “Yes, and they should remind you that God is light, that he shines continuously, that Jesus’ love for is you bright, and that, look! … the darkness around the light has not overcome it.”
According to Saint John, this God whom we serve, whom we follow, is the light, and Jesus came so all might live in the light. And if this is the message that resonates by the enduring candles’ flames, I think that is bright enough for this blessed season.
For “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ … so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:3-4).