I already can’t wait for the Summer.
For we have some friends who have a huge house right on the coast of Brittany and we are going there this year for the first time for a long time.
When we arrive the house is always in darkness. All the shutters are pulled down, the doors are locked and the windows are shut fast.
We love to go round the house straight away, before we have even unpacked, and pull down the shutters, unlock the doors and open all the windows , until the whole house is flooded with light and fresh air and all you can hear is the sea and all you can feel is the sun.
During Lent a number of us have been reading the lovely book by Sr Wendy Beckett entitled “The Art of Lent”. In it, you get a painting to look at every day and a little reflection on its meaning.
I enjoyed the painting of Jan Vermeer particularly. He of “The Girl With the Pearl Earring fame”.
This painting was entitled “The young woman with a water jug”.
It’s a lovely study of a young girl in a pleasant room clasping a jug of water in one hand and reaching out to open a window with the other, and I understood for the first time I think, that it wasn’t the girl, it wasn’t the jug, it wasn’t the pleasing aspect of the room that was at all important, rather it was her act of opening the window and letting in the light so that it fell upon those objects and made a difference to them. Transformed them.
And in that act, to discover that this mirrors precisely what we are about.
Our Old Testament reading finds the people of Israel moving from the darkness of slavery to the light and freedom of the promised land.
God had met them in the dark captivity of Egypt and now was leading them to the light filled freedom of Canaan. But the people are grumbling against the emerging light. They want to go back to how they were. They want to draw the curtains upon God, for the journey from darkness to light is proving too much for them to bare.
In the Gospel Jesus is saying there is a verdict to pronounce!
Light has come into the world, but some people have preferred darkness to light – for the light shows up their evil deeds. But if you live by the truth, you come into the light, so that it may be plainly seen what God has done in you.
There’s a choice to be made and it’s crucial.
What’s the most important thing – seeing the light of Christ – or protecting others from seeing your shortcomings.
In these days, it seems ever more clearly to me what the church should be doing. It is plain. It is simple. It is vital.
It is to go to places of darkness and let the light in. Pulling down shutters. Drawing back curtains. Opening windows. In small ways, that is something each of us can do, but sometimes we do the opposite and we wallow in the darkness and we point to the darkness as the predominating feature in the lives of others, especially those we do not like.
But what I learnt from Vermeer’s painting is that once you let the light in by simply opening the window, you cannot control where it falls. The light has a mind of its own. It reflects beauty in all sorts of unexpected ways. And it does that in your life and mine.
One of the reasons we might want to keep the light out, is to keep control of our lives. The thought of it shining everywhere and presenting fresh challenges and opportunities to us is worrying, because we will not be masters of our own destiny, but we will let Christ be that.
Faith is not being frightened of what the light might show up.
Grace is accepting the God given possibility in everything that is so touched.
Mission is about opening lives towards that light in as many ways as we can.
Christianity is about seeing the source of that light in one who walked this earth just as we do, but with all the fullness of God.
For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. So long as you don’t reach out and close that window that someone once opened in you.
I already can’t wait for the Summer.