LIGHT ON THE PATH TO THE CENTER
Thoughts on the words from the Act of Consecration of Man, “Christ‘s light in our daylight”
As far as we know there has always been the perception of light. Since ancient times, light has always been connected with the Divine. The perception of light, of the Divine, is like a golden thread weaving through the unfolding story, the history of humanity’s development. And like the plant and its roots, this golden thread has spread out, becoming finer and finer. It is no longer so much a question of humanity’s relationship to the light but of each and every individual. Perhaps what was once seen and worshiped for instance in ancient Egypt as the sun god Horus is not simply something humanity has outgrown, put aside like child’s play. Perhaps it can be seen, understood as a point on the path of light from the periphery to the center, from the outer to the inner.
I received a card recently which had been signed “your brother Jürgen”. Inside the card was a separate clipping of a little story of wisdom:
A wise man asked his students, “When is the night over; when does the day begin?” One student asked, “Is it when, from a distance, one can distinguish a fig tree from a palm?”
“No, this it is not”, was the answer from the wise man. Another student asked, “Well, does the night become day when one can tell from a distance a sheep from a goat?”
The wise man shook his head, “No, this is not the moment either.” Then, when has the moment come, wondered the students. The wise man then told them, “When in the face of your neighbor you come to recognize your brother, your sister, then is the night over and the day has begun”.
Some mornings, if I am lucky to be nearby, I hear a co-worker of mine greet another with the words, “Good morning Sunshine!” Of course it’s said in playfulness, but there is also a heartfelt quality in the voice. As it is, we are often unaware of the truths which dance off our tongues much like the light dancing on rippling waters of a stream or flickering through the leaves of the trees, moved by the wind.
In the Gospels we read how Christ taught often in parables, in pictures. And yet, when He spoke the words, “I am the light of the world”, He did not preface or conclude them with “Well, metaphorically speaking”. Nor is it written at other times, “Now He taught them with a parable”. Yet, how are we to understand this? Especially when we know, clear as day, that it is the sun, this rather unremarkable star (which I have heard it called) that is, so to speak, the bringer of our daylight. Here, though, it is not so much this undeniable fact which interests me as it is these words, “a rather unremarkable star”.
The words, “Christ’s light in our daylight”, which are spoken during the Offertory of the Act of Consecration of Man are also quite simple sounding, unassuming, even rather unremarkable. The priest raises their hands roughly body width apart, and during the moment in which they are held, quite high before the head, these words are spoken. At times, the rising, flowing smoke of the incense which has shortly before been lit, capture the sun’s light streaming in through the windows.
Reflecting on my own experience of these words and this gesture, one thing stands out most strongly. As already mentioned, the rather unremarkable, simple form of them, and, at the same time, their manifoldness.
In the epistle which comes during the beginning and then again at end of the sacrament, it is asked that the spirit receive our knowing into its life which shines with spirit. In the words and gesture of “Christ’s light in our daylight”, I can experience how we are striving to lift, to raise up our knowing to the spiritual worlds, asking that our knowing be received into its life which is shining with spirit. In this way, as well as probably countless others, we might recognize in this moment an expression of Faith. What we know to be true is brought into consciousness and lifted upwards.
During the Sunday service for children, words are spoken to them of how it is the love between human beings which enlivens all the work we do and how it is the Christ who is the teacher of this love. In the “grown-ups service” which was the name of the Act of Consecration for me as a child, we hear how we find “Christ in freedom as our helping guide”. At a time when the idea, perhaps the very reality of freedom was not the same as it has become, we find Christ in a pillar of fire which led Moses and the Israelites during the night through the desert. And at the time when He walked on the Earth as a human being, He called his disciples “my friends”, and even further, kneeled down before them as a servant and washed their feet. In our time, as the priest’s hands open heavenwards, speaking the words, “Christ’s light in our daylight”, it is as though a space is being created, offered into which the Christ’s light might be received. Not only received but stream through, in-forming us ever new, ever deeper as it then flows out into the world. For there is no longer a pillar of fire leading us onwards, or a man of flesh and blood bending down before us. It is a light, it is Christ’s light which we can find, which can learn to perceive more and more in the soul of the other who walks beside us. And in this developing, deepening relationship of offering and receiving and again, certainly in many other ways, perhaps we can come to recognize in these few unremarkable words and simple gesture an expression of Love.
In Christian terms we are now in the time of Advent. Death has once again swept over the natural world. Yet, deep within, hidden, protected from the outer world there is the advent of what is to come, the new life which is to be born.
At the end of the Bible in the Book of Revelations we read of, in a sense, another birth. Here, though, it is called a marriage, when out of the heavens the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descends. It is described how there is no longer night, no longer any need for an outer sun for the light of human beings is God and God is with them and they with God. Christ has at last truly been born in each and every individual. Christ’s light has now fully entered our whole humanity. Yet, what can this revelation truly be for us now but a quiet flame of hope which we carry through the deep blue night of Advent. And perhaps it is especially during this time of the year when we can come to recognize in the words, “Christ’s light in our daylight, an expression of our deepest and highest intention, an expression of Hope.
Written by Amos Dancey.