Light of God


The opening of John’s gospel patterns the beginning lines of Genesis, “in the beginning God” mirroring “in the beginning was the Word,” two of the trinity creating together, the two one. Another parallel is the light that pervades both: “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,” John says. Word. Life. Light. And so it was in the beginning: God’s first words, “Let there be light” broke through absolute darkness, ignited the life that followed. The light emanated from Go himself, was God, the light that glinted from the first waves, the light absorbed by the first green leaves, three days of light before creation of the sun, moon, stars, entities that are merest twinkling of the stunning light of the Word.

Throughout history, God existed in light: to Moses, he was a bush aflame; he traveled in pillar of fire. In tabernacle and temple, he was altar flame and menorah’s unwavering light. The glow of Moses’ face, so bright that the People could not gaze at him without shielding veil, was mere residual light of God’s glory, glare of divinity.

In a star dwarfing all other light in heaven, God blazed into a new covenant. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned,” re-creation, new life, new Word. Christ carried that star with him, a beacon for others to follow, first light that once-blind men saw, restoring sight from darkness, both physical and spiritual: he who has eyes to see, let him see.

Only three were chosen to see the magnitude of the light that Christ contained: James, John, Peter saw brightness beyond the possible, their blind eyes never the same Skin dissolved in divine brilliance; true essence of God flashed into vision, perhaps the same light that resuscitated his own dead body from the tomb–until nothing but light remained on that cold slab of stone.

Spirit flame, kindling languages, multiplying Word: sound of wind rushing through. God with us now, burning within, a light meant to illuminate a city on a hill, a new Jerusalem to which Christ will return, his eyes like blazing fire, enough wattage to light heaven, the sun wan and extraneous. So the circle is unbroken: creation into re-creation, let there be light into light that always was, eternal God.

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