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Lent reflection Cover Image

The light of the world, John 8:12-20

21st Mar 2019

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 13 Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. 18 I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” 19 Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.  (NRSV)

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Why would you paint the same picture three times?

What captures your imagination that you want to keep on thinking about it?

Who or what is your light of the world?

My light of the world is semi-hidden.  By which I mean a reproduction of the Holman Hunt picture inherited from my Grandma, possibly because I was the ‘religious’ grandchild, hangs in our utility area.  It is not on public display but I know it is there and I am still fascinated by the beauty of the colours, the intricacy of the painting and the evocation of Revelation 3.20:  ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock’.  I loved this picture as a child, Grandma’s house was a treasure trove of things that brought me delight but that and a chipped owl lamp base are what now dwell in my home.  I have a growing awareness of how images of Jesus I was familiar with in my childhood shaped me and the visual for me was paintings and stained glass windows.  I don’t remember a TV Jesus from my childhood. 

I do remember Lent as a child though, not because of giving something up but because at Sunday School we were encouraged to give to others, each week we took a small gift which would be sent to children somewhere who didn’t have what we had.  I do also remember a window sill with lots of Easter Eggs on it and hot cross buns fresh from the bakers on Good Friday, back then the only day you could buy them!  I lament a little the all year round availability of hot cross buns, some of the celebration has gone and I wonder how many know their history.

The statement ‘I am the light of the world’ follows on from the story where Jesus challenges those who were going to stone a woman caught in adultery.  For that woman, Jesus is so clearly the light of the world, he comes into her life and gives her a fresh start, a new perspective, if she chose to take it.  There are so many questions we can have about what happened next in the gospel stories, so often there are no answers.  For me, I know I made a decision to follow Jesus who is my light of the world and that choice is a choice for yesterday, today and tomorrow.  It has shaped my worldview, my vocation and my actions and I try to be a light to others, I hope that in some ways I testify to Jesus as he testified to the Father.  Some days that light may seem a little hidden like my picture at home but that Jesus is the light of the world is a profound truth that I return to again and again and pray that others may grasp that truth too.  

For lots of interesting background material on the Holman Hunt painting see here:

Revd Dr Sally Nash, St John's Team Leader and Director of MCYM