"The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out."
-John 1:5 (JB Phillips translation)
These are dark times.
The election is filled with speech that is harsh and hateful. Other news I read is just as dark, North Korea could have nuclear weapons with the potential to reach our borders in a few years. Russian relations are tense. Continual environmental problems, wars, death, disease, it's all there.
I'm reminded of the line from one of my favorite books, The Lord of the Rings, when I think about these issues. Gandalf the wizard is talking to Frodo who wishes that none of these dreadful, awful events had ever happened. Frodo wants to be back home, enjoying friends and family, he wants things back to the way they used to be, back to normal. He is tired of the stress, the sadness, the difficulty of such times. The conversation goes like this:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, 'The Fellowship of the Ring'
When viewing such dark, stressful and difficult times we don't pretend that everything is fine. We don't sugarcoat things as if they are better than they really are. We look at what we can do and we do it.
We also remember what our passage at the beginning of John's gospel says. The Light came into the world, to dispel the darkness, to illuminate the shadows, and even when that light seems to flicker, like a small candle in a cold windowsill, we would do well to remember, it hasn't been put out.