Now that the summer solstice (the longest day) is passed we, in the Northern hemisphere, will start to notice the daylight diminishing by around seven minutes a week until the shortest day in December.
We all need the light. Exposure to sunlight is said to increase the brain’s release of the hormone called serotonin which is associated with improving mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. It also boosts our body’s Vitamin D storage, benefits vision, aids sleep and leads to enhanced productivity. Prior to the invention of artificial lighting at the turn of the 19th century, people spent many more of their waking hours outside in natural light but today, in the age of electric lighting, the average Westerner spends 90% of their life indoors, which is bringing consequences for both physical and mental health.
Our modern lifestyles have changed our relationship with light.
Light is vital to life. As we read in Genesis chapter one, light was at the very beginning of the creation, transforming a dark, formless void into the very first bright day on earth; ‘…and God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.’ (Genesis 1:4 & 5).
At the beginning of his Gospel, John picks up on this theme of light created by the word of God, and the separation of the light from the darkness, he then goes on to highlight the point that darkness has not overcome the light; ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5). The word he uses for ‘overcome’ is a word carrying the meaning of ‘comprehend’ or ‘understand’. John develops this further in the following verses when he describes Gods’ son, Jesus, who was ‘coming into the world’, as the ‘true light that gives light to everyone’, but who, sadly, would not be seen for what he was because of the darkness in the world. They didn’t ‘get it’; they preferred to stay in darkness. But, for those who did (and do) see Jesus in his true light, those ‘who believed in his name’, we are told that he is able to transform them (us) into ‘children of God’.
There are many more Bible verses referring to ‘light’ that shine out with the most beautiful and reassuring message of hope which can help us to overcome darkness, but I want to finish by quoting a few short verses from Paul’s second letter to the (Corinthians 4).
‘…by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.’
Let there be light.