I decided, in a rash moment, that for the period of Advent I would endeavour to undertake a quick, off the cuff, reader response type, reflection on one or more of the daily lectionary readings for the day, and to try to link that to the theme for the week. So this week, I am looking for things that connect with the idea of hope.
According to the Northumbria Community, whose judgement I trust, the readings for today are:
Psalm 104: 19-23
Isaiah 45: 3 - 7
Mark 1: 21 - 32
(You can find the Nothumbria Community morning prayer and lectionary readings online here)
As I read the three readings the line that struck me was from the Isaiah reading:
"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:3
What, I wonder, are the 'treasures of darkness'? We tend to see darkness as negative, indeed, we love the metaphor of Christ as Light who dispels the darkness, yet here, God says, I will give you the treasures of darkness.
Might it be that there are 'treasures', insights, precious memories, glimpses of grace, depths of love, that we can only discover in or through darkness? Not that we should seek darkness or somehow make a virtue of suffering, absolutely not. Not that we should capitulate to the unhelpful myth that 'whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger' (tosh! imo). No. Might it be that the hope that sustains us in the dark places, the 'little deaths', the 'dark nights of the soul', the sleepless nights of fear of anxiety... might it be that the hope that sustains us is that somehow God is present in the darkness, and the treasures we discover, unsought, unexpected, are tiny flickering candles with the audacity to say to the darkness "pah! you shall not win!"
God, at whose word light and dark were parted, remind us that neither can hide us from your sight, from your love.
God who is the light that cannot be extinguished by the darkness of death or sin or finitude, remind us that even the darkness is light to you
God of hope, ever present in our darkest places, show as the treasures that lie hidden, and lead us forward into your everlasting light.