"Catch the Light!"
By Rev. Rebecca Migliore
The 40 days of Lent have traditionally been a sober, somber time to prepare one’s self for the holy days surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is why the church is decked in purple. That is why people fast and “give up” something. That is why we stop singing “Alleluia.” That is why we start the season with ashes, reminding us of our mortality, reminding us of our imperfection, reminding us of our need for God and God’s grace. And so, when Seasons of the Spirit suggested that this Lent we focus not on dark hues but on the expanding of Light, I was momentarily perplexed.
But we see these events in hindsight. We know what is coming. And maybe we can catch a new perspective on those familiar readings (temptation, Nicodemus, the woman at the well, the blind man, Mary and Martha and Lazarus) if we notice that there is (or should be) a dawning light of understanding. Epiphany season is over, but the revealing of Jesus to us continues. And so this year, we are invited to “catch the light—God’s love growing in you and me.”
In worship, watch as we fill the sanctuary with more and more candles/lights each week. May we too be enlightened. In our giving and serving, March kicks off One Great Hour of Sharing, as we also run our March blood drive, and continue our work at St. Andrews and the West Orange Food Pantry. May our service to others, as we show God’s love, grow deep and wide. In our study (personal and collective), we will be thinking about our turbulent world and how we can be the light and love of God in its midst. May our conversation and dreaming be a source of sparks that can be fanned into a Spirit fire.
On a personal note, I do not need any extra reminders to make Ash Wednesday and Lent a melancholic time. As we approach the six year “anniversary” of my leukemia diagnosis (and “rapture” from the 2011 Ash Wednesday service), I am grateful for a chance to reframe this part of the year. All the “down” parts of Lent—ashes, giving up, purple—are intended to point towards an “up” –the gracious love of God, the incredible gifts we have been given to share with others, the rainbow of colors that spring from that royal purple.
I learned a new thing this year—that the early followers of Jesus carved peacocks on the walls of secret meeting places and catacombs—and thus the peacock became a Christian symbol for life after death (from Meeting Jesus, 2017 Lenten Devotional from Presbyterians Today). I think that is a wonderful image for us as well. No matter the circumstances, even if we find ourselves deep underground, the story of Jesus colors our world.
May we catch a glimpse of that spectacular array of light, in all its glory, as we journey through Lent this year.