Darkness and Light

by Rev. Canon Stewart Murray

This article appears in the March issue of Crosstalk, the newspaper of the Diocese of Ottawa

Holy Week, especially Good Friday, and Easter are an invitation that God gives us to reflect on the challenges and difficulties we all face. They are also times that speak to me of the possibilities of change and renewal.

For Jesus, Holy Week is the end of his public ministry and the time of his passion and death; for the apostles it is the end of the hope that Jesus’ ministry had given to their hearts and minds; for the Roman authorities it is the disposal of a problem and an insurrection averted, while for the multitudes of people who had been touched by Jesus’ ministry, it spells discouragement and even despair. The biblical accounts of Good Friday, “It was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour” (Luke 23:44), speak of literal darkness at noon – the sixth hour – but also the darkness of the human heart, mind, and imagination. We can sense the desolation and the loss of hope, not only of those standing at the foot of the Cross, but of others whose lives were touched by Jesus. We all have times when darkness touches our lives.

The pain of loss caused by the end of a friendship, the death of a loved one or the loss of our dreams, the deep disappointment we can experience in our relationships, the sense of being lost and alone, unsure of what to do or even think, are all such occasions. But the darkness of Good Friday is scattered by the Resurrection on the third day. In the darkness of the tomb, new life emerged triumphant. Holy Week marked the end of the old order of sin and death, and the new life made possible in the Risen Christ of Easter. A new beginning can emerge from times of darkness. Indeed, it is often in the times of darkness that we can come to understand what is most important in our lives, what really matters. We can turn and look to the Risen Christ to lead us out of “darkness and into his own marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

The theme of change and renewal is very much part of the drama of Holy Week and Easter. Change is never easy, but as the wise saying reminds us, “Change is the one constant in life.” For me, the challenge is to keep my mind, heart and imagination fixed on Christ and His covenant with me, and all of His people, so that in the midst of the whirl of change, He is the centre of stability and peace. With Christ as the centre, I can be open to the changes in my life, society and the Church.

In the midst of change we have the opportunity to work with others to ensure that we keep our focus on the eternal values of the Gospel. Change often requires that we let go of people, things and treasured ideas, in order that the new might emerge. Change can seem at times to be darkness as deep as on Good Friday, but we know that the resurrection is also promised; that out of the tumult of times of change a new and vibrant way will be found through Christ. I have known many people who have gone through a terrible loss, feeling isolated, confused and even afraid, but with the love and support of their Parish, family and friends and the grace of God, they have found a new and different, but satisfying way of living once again.

Perhaps you have gone through an experience of having your life turned upside down but have come through it with a renewed sense of purpose and of the understanding of the depth of God’s love for you. This Holy Week, see in the life of Christ and of the people in the Gospel something of your own journey and rejoice. May God grant all of us a holy and challenging Holy Week.