The Longest Night
Personally, I don’t mind having Thomas as a companion this week. I had the privilege of sitting with him, metaphorically speaking, this past Wednesday at Morning Prayer. While the Roman Catholic Church has switched his feast day to July 3 (in part not to interfere with Advent devotions), we Episcopalians continue to remember him on December 21 – which, in our hemisphere anyway, gives us the longest night of our year.
It fits, I suppose – to have history’s most famous “doubter” remembered on a day known for its darkness. Prolonged lack of light can make even the most faithful among us question what’s really out there beyond our sight. We begin to doubt the basics like the goodness and justice of God, things that once seemed as clear as day.
At least Thomas knew what he was looking for. He’d seen the human face of God in Jesus – even if he didn’t know that’s what he was seeing at the time.
I’m not sure we even know what we’re looking for. I find myself identifying with a fellow seeker, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), who wrote these words in the Proslogion a thousand years ago:
“Lord, you are my Lord and my God, and I have never seen you.
You have created and re-created me, all the good I have comes from you, and still I do not know you.
I was created to see you, and I have not yet accomplished that for which I was made…
Teach me to seek you, and when I seek you, show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor can I find you unless you show yourself to me.
Let me seek you in desiring you and desire you in seeking you, let me find you by loving you, and love you in finding you.”
Or as another Thomas (Merton, this time) put it a bit more hopefully a millennium later, “I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. I hope I have that desire in everything I do. I hope I never persist in anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it at the time. “
Our longest night has passed. The Light is coming – the Light that reveals the One who was there with us in the darkness all along. Come join me this weekend at our Christmas services. Let’s seek and find together.