Turning on the Light

Turning on the Light

In my opinion, one of the best movie franchises of all time, is the Harry Potter series (PS: Harry Potter has Orthodox themes, read about them here https://www.ocf.net/harry-potter-and-the-fight-between-good-and-evil/). Anyway, in the third Harry Potter Movie, The Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore says something that stuck with me. “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Our OCF theme this year is John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (NKJV).  In the Psalms we see that the “Lord is [our] light and [our] salvation” (Psalm 27:1 NKJV). Let me infomercial this for you:

Do you ever wake up in the night when it’s dark and you just can’t see?! 

Trip over your dog on the way to the bathroom?

Tired of those bulky flashlights that are just too hard to use?

Well, fear no more! Now introducing Christ!

With Christ you will never need a flashlight again!

This could be yours for only the price of faith as small as a mustard seed!

This has a lifetime warranty!

Order now, and we will throw in a free church recommendation!

Okay I’m done. But, think about it. Christ is our light in the darkness! The darkness doesn’t overcome Him! Okay but what does this have to do with Dumbledore? So, while my “infomercial” was a little on the overdramatic side, it’s true, sometimes we can’t see because it’s dark. In my life, sometimes the sorrow I have overwhelms me, and I retreat into “the darkness.” If wallowing in self-pity was an Olympic sport, I would have a gold medal. One could say, I “catastrophize” — go to the worst case scenario and stay there. So in this time of feeling sorry for myself, I sit in the darkness, waiting to be rescued, but why? Can’t I just save myself? The answer is yes. Though I am not sure I am spiritually or emotionally mature enough to practice this, I could just…turn on the light. If I were to sit in darkness, and think of everything bad, what a terrible life I would live. When I really think about it, it seems miserable. But then I realize that I do live like that! But why?! 

I have the source of light that will never go out! I have a guardian angel who is really good at protecting me. I have saints who pray for me. If I truly let the light of Christ live inside of me, I would never need to turn on the light. But being human I fall short. I think Dumbledore knew that we retreat to the darkness and forget we have the power to “flip the switch,” which is why he said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” In John 16:22 Jesus says, “Therefore, you now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” Jesus makes this promise to the Apostles, and to us! We are going to retreat sometimes into the darkness of sorrow, fear, pity, ETC, but if we remember to turn on the light, we will see the path Christ has set forth for us, and the thousands of angels standing guard around us. For as Christ promises, while we may sorrow now, when we lay our eyes on Him who is the source of light, our hearts will be filled with a joy that no one can take from us! What a beautiful promise and an amazing correlation to our theme. Remember that the darkness cannot overcome Christ’s light, and through Him, we can remember to “turn on the lights.” For when we allow Christ’s light to shine in us, we will be filled with joy.

Evyenia Pyle

Evyenia Pyle

Publications Student

Hi, I am Evyenia Pyle, and I am the publications student this year! I am in my second year of college studying speech and hearing sciences! I play 12 instruments as of right now, and in my free time I play with my dog. I am really excited about this upportunity. Never hesitate to reach out with questions, comments, or if you are interested in writing a blog! publicationsstudent@ocf.net 

Light Shining in the Darkness

Light Shining in the Darkness

by Paul Murray

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend [overcome] it,” (John 1:1-5).

​This is the beginning of the Gospel account of St. John, in which he beautifully and poetically retells the story of creation. His readers knew the story so well, but here he shows that Jesus was there from the very beginning. So much can be said on these five verses, so we can only scratch the surface in this brief blog post. The whole thing can be summarized like this: Jesus is God, and He always existed and was involved with creation. He created everything, including all life, meaning the life that He gives shines throughout the world as light. OCF’s theme for this year centers around verse 5, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” so we will dig in deeper to what this means.

What is the darkness?

Do we see darkness around us? Just yesterday as I was getting a haircut, my barber, knowing that I am in seminary, asked about what I thought about everything going on in the world. He said, “At my age, having seen what I’ve seen, I had hoped things would be better by this point.” We don’t have to look very far to see the darkness in the world. We see so much pain and destruction, so much needless suffering, so much hatred, such clear failure of empathy, so many people crying out in distress yet so few ears open to hear their cries. How do we battle such monstrous darkness?

Light in darkness

St. Porphyrios has a simple answer, as he does to most complex issues. “Don’t fight to expel darkness from the chamber of your soul. Open a tiny aperture for the light to enter, and the darkness will disappear.” Think of this along with John 1:5: “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” What darkness can overpower light? Light always wins out over darkness; there is simply no other way for things to be. If there is darkness, light is not present, and if there is light, there cannot be darkness.

So what do I do?

“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). This is what Christ tells His disciples, in whose footsteps we now follow. If Christ is the true light (John 1:4) and we are the light of the world, that means that we, the Church, are called to be the presence of Christ in this world. We are battling darkness, and He is the light; what chance do we have in our battle without Him? How could we eliminate darkness without light?

Okay, but really, what do I do?

First, we pray. Prayer opens us up to dialogue with God. We need to pray every morning and every evening, as we are able. It can be 30 seconds or 30 minutes (or beyond), but it needs to be something to be the foundation of our day. And we can also find moments for prayer or stillness throughout the day; one of my favorites is walking back to the dorm from the library at night. Everything is so still, the work for the day is done (or at least, more done than it used to be), and there is so much around me to be thankful for.

Second, we show love and kindness to all who we meet. We can try to do this without prayer and trust in God, but we will find ourselves constantly falling short until we are united with Him. We are called to be first of all kind and loving to our friends and the people close to us, and then to extend out from there. Christ makes clear from His account of the last judgment in Matthew 25 that our priority are the poor, the hungry, and the needy in any way. We may see people struggling with various things on our campuses, and many of them may not have people to help them, or even people to talk to them and share in their struggle for a few seconds. We are called to be the light in their darkness by simply being with them; no more, no less.

Take-Away Point:

Here’s the main message, my friends. Being the light in the darkness means we must be connected to God and strength from Him, which comes from prayer (especially thanksgiving), reading scripture, and spending time in stillness. Having this foundation, we extend that same love that He shows to us constantly to everyone around us, especially when it is hard. In this way, we battle the darkness, not by futile means that we contrive of ourselves, but by allowing the Light to enter into our situation, so that the darkness is simply no more. If we focus on the darkness that is still out there, we will become dejected and give up. But if we focus on who we are called to be—God’s presence in our communities, most especially to the person in front of us at any given moment—then we can call upon the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and work through us to spread light to our communities around us.

Paul Murray

Paul Murray

Guest Author

Hi! I’m a third-year seminarian at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. I have a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in Spanish, and am working towards my Master of Divinity. When I am not writing blog articles for OCF, I canusually be found working on some project for school or something else, practicing chanting,refining my Super Smash Bros game with other HCHC students, or throwing a Frisbee at people to try to get someone to play catch with me.