A beautiful word out of Duke Divinity School from the Dean, L. Gregory Jones, to begin our Holy Week together. May it bless your spirit as it blessed mine.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
In times of crisis like our current pandemic of COVID-19, it can feel like the darkness is overwhelming. Fears and anxieties rise, and inclinations toward compassion diminish. History teaches us that pandemics often lead to a preoccupation with survival that can cause us to shrink into ourselves rather than expand outward. Loneliness becomes more pervasive, and isolation from the world closes in on us. Despair threatens us around every corner, the future no longer seems what it used to be. For some, even the possibilities of meaningful work and sustainable institutions seem unattainable; as Yeats put it a century ago, “the center cannot hold.”L. Gregory Jones
And yet. As we enter this most holy of weeks, we confront the darkness from a perspective of light. The darkness is real; our sin and selfishness, the world’s fragility and brokenness, stare us directly in the face. And yet. As we journey with Christ from Palm/Passion Sunday, through his betrayal and the agony of Good Friday, and the emptiness of Holy Saturday, to the promise of Easter, we discover that the reality of the darkness is not overwhelming. It is present, but even more powerful is the light of Easter. The passage from John 1 is from the beginning of the story, the Incarnation, the Word made flesh. And yet it is powerful testimony to the climax of the story, the triumph of the Light over the darkness in the reality of the Resurrection.
In times of fear and anxiety, we are people of trust in God. In times of loneliness and isolation, we are a people discovering fresh ways to be Christian community; in times of despair, we are empowered by the hope of Christ’s resurrection. And in times where meaningful work and sustainable institutions seem fragile, we are Easter people who point to the extraordinary power of “new creation.” And yet!
Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Distinguished Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry