On the Friday evening before Easter, Al and I attended a special Good Friday concert in which our daughter, Shanda, was playing her viola. A small orchestra of professional musicians, including the gifted church organist on piano, accompanied the Chancel Choir in offering a beautiful gift to those of us in attendance, a five movement piece called “LUX: The Dawn from on High,” just recently released by composer Dan Forrest.
This work was themed around the concept of light, combining a 7th century chant with four other compositions, including Gloria in Excelsis, translated “Glory (to God) in the Highest” and a poem set to music about the Sun and the Earth. The words of the poem went like this:
“Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth ‘you owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.” (Daniel Ladinsky, “The Gift: Poems” by Hafiz p. 34)
What an interesting image! The Earth is indeed indebted to the Sun; however the Sun never asks for anything in return. It just keeps shining! Love?
Lux, Latin for “light,” was an unusual theme for Good Friday, a day of sorrow, mourning and death. We don’t usually connect that day with light — maybe Easter, but not the Friday before. The afternoon sky turned black from noon to 3 o’clock as Jesus suffered on the cross and His life ebbed away. People were afraid, terrified in the darkness.
To make things worse, there was a tremendous earthquake. It was so strong that the pillars of the temple shook, ripping the curtain that closed off the “Most Holy Place” from top to bottom.
Even a centurion, hardened to the sight of torture and death, was frightened as he stood at the base of the cross. “Surely he was the Son of God!” he exclaimed, as the “Light of the World” was extinguished. — (Matthew 27:54 NIV)
When the Earth was “formless and empty, darkness was over surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters,” God’s first act of creation was to give the command, “Let there be light!” He observed that the light was good, separated the light from the dark and named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” — (Gen 1:1-5)
We see it again in Exodus, when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, and then led the people of Israel through the desert in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night so that they could see where they were going!
The brilliant light of the glory of the Lord is described as looking like a consuming fire over Mt. Sinai. Later, whenever Moses came before God’s presence inside the tabernacle, his face would shine so brightly that he would have to cover it with a veil before going back among the people. Light enables us to see! It also represents holiness and purity, God’s nature.
It is also used many times in the book of Psalms where light refers to understanding. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” — (Ps. 119: 130, 105)
In the book of Isaiah, the prophet points the people of Israel to their long awaited Messiah by saying that God would bring honor to the inhabitants of Galilee, that those “walking in darkness have seen a great light...” — (Isaiah 9:1-2) — Later, Jesus attested that He was the one, claiming to be the light of the world: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — (John 12:46) — Hope, truth, light...Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
When the pastor rose to dismiss the congregation at the end of the service, he admitted to being overwhelmed and speechless! I left the church feeling moved and inspired by the beautiful message in “LUX: The Dawn from on High.”
As we drove home, a very bright, full moon shone through the bare branches of maple trees, proof that the sun was faithfully shining even though our part of the world had turned away from it. And there was still the dawning of Easter to anticipate!
“In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness, has not understood it.” — John 1:4-5
Judy Lowery lives in Michigan. The Good News column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, goodnewswithjudy.blogspot.com.