Several years ago, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with a getaway in southern Utah. Where we stayed, we were bordered by the Colorado River on one side, and on the other by the dramatic red sandstone structures that make up the landscape. One morning I watched the sunrise from the balcony and was transfixed by the transition from darkness to light. Gradually, the rocks, which I knew were there but could not see at first, became known. Initially, I could see only the outline of shape and no color. Soon, though, a ray of light struck the rock high above me. As the new day began, the gray monochrome became beautiful color. The light leads me through the day and, though it is not readily seen, I have faith that it protects me in the night, and is always there.
In the morning office we pray the Collect for the Renewal of Life, which begins: O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning…(BCP 1979). Death itself is but a shadow on which the Light of the World, Jesus, will shine and turn it into morning. The gift of this new day gives rise to all sorts of possibilities.
When evening comes we sing the Phos Hilaron: O gracious Light, pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven. O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed! Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (BCP 1979) And we pray that the light would remain with us throughout the night.
In the Collect for Aid Against Perils, we say: Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night… (BCP 1979) The light of the world, Jesus (Jn 8:12), emptied himself to be born in the likeness of men (Phil. 2: 7). The light of the day shines on the shadows of my wickedness, and all the evil in the world. I know and God knows my undisciplined self and the evils within and without. Yet, as the day turns into night and the night into day again, Jesus bids us all to come, offer thanksgiving and begin yet again to order our ways rightly (Psalm 50:23). And Psalm 50 again, this time beginning at the 1st verse, says:
The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
I look to his mercy through the night and his light to lead me in the day. I long to be in union with him and to be found among his faithful ones. I do not fear the night, for I know that Jesus is the Light of the world, and will shed his perfect light on the unknown forms in the darkness, turn the monochromatic and the formless unknown into beautiful things full of color and grandeur. I will continue to walk by his light and his truth, trusting in his goodness and his faithfulness to do these things.