A FRIDAY MEDITATION – And there was Light

These are the days of Elijah declaring the word of the Lord And these are the days of Your servant Moses righteousness being restored These are the days of great trials of famine and darkness and sword. Still we are the voice in the desert crying, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Behold He comes, riding on the clouds shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call. Lift your voice, year of Jubilee out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes. ~ Days of Elijah, att. Robin Mark

Here we are at the end of the Epiphany Season, Ash Wednesday being this week.  Have you decided what you are going to do for spiritual practices during Lent – giving up something, taking on something, both?

Two things caught my attention today – The Gospel reading for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, coming up; and today God said to me, “Let there be light” straight out of Genesis 1.  What do these have to do with Lent? I do not know.

The Gospel: From Matthew 17:1-9 – Jesus takes three of his closest friends, Peter, James, and John with him on a hike up the mountain.  While they were standing atop, Jesus’ face changes and shines like the sun and his clothes become as white as the light. Suddenly – it’s always suddenly, isn’t it – Moses and Elijah appear and have a conversation with Jesus. Peter is so excited that he wants to build dwellings for Jesus, for Moses and for Elijah.  But then a bright cloud surrounds the three and a voice from that cloud declares that Jesus is his Son and the disciples (we) need to listen to him. This terrified the disciples the Bible says. You think?! But Jesus touches them and says, “Get up and don’t be afraid.” They look up and Elijah and Moses are gone. Then Jesus says a very strange thing. He says, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Whiplash!  What?

“Get up and don’t be afraid.” Why does this story hold my attention so much this week?  Why does the above song by Robin Mark do the same? Especially here at the almost beginning of Lent. Why did God say to me this morning, “Let there be light?” Isn’t Lent about darkness, repentance, sacrifice, and maybe some groveling?  And isn’t it about Ashes?  Those that will be marked on our heads on Ash Wednesday with the spoken words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return?” Yes.  Well maybe Lent is not about the groveling, but listen to the words of the service this Wednesday.  If you can’t attend, read the words from The Book of Common Prayer beginning on Page 265.

Thoughts:  Lent is mostly about turning around which is what repentance means.  The Ash Wednesday service reminds me that I am not God.  When God said, “Let there be light”, I remember that in the beginning, God intended and created light, which is probably the same thing, and we were to live in that light in a constant relationship of love with him. “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5 tells us.  Light shows us when we have gone off course – when we have decided to take our lives into our own hands rather than follow God’s plan for us.  Lent gives us a time to rethink and repent of our decisions to do our own thing. Light reveals to us those things that we do that lead us away from God instead of toward him in a relationship of Love.  The light of Jesus helps us stay on the path and is what we are given to share with others.

Question: What Lenten practices will help me to notice when I do my own thing and help me to return to all that God wants for me and for others? What will help you?

Lord God of signs and wonders, when sin has silenced our song, sing about the good you still see in us. Great Son, friend of all who stray, when shame has broken our best, create a new and living way for us. Wild Spirit winged with healing power, when lies destroy our standing, remind us that you share this road with us.

Therefore, we’ll run, stagger, and bow, then kneel, In penitence because you care for us. Amen – Russ Parker, Prayer Poems for the Journey

 

 

 

 

A Meditation for Ash Wednesday

Today on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, we hear these words:

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.”—The Book of Common Prayer

These words from The Book of Common Prayer begin to answer the question of why we have the season of Lent.  It is a gift the Church has given us. It gives us a time to take inventory of ourselves—to look at the things done and left undone in our lives.  It gives us time to look at where in our lives we are moving toward God or where we are actually moving away from God.  It gives us time to look at the relationship we have with ourselves and with others.  Are we acting in love or un-love?

St. Benedict, in the Rule for his monasteries, liked for his monks to make a little Lent each day, to examine themselves each day, but most of us don’t, or won’t, take time for this.   Lent is a time to make space in our life for God and it calls us to certain practices that help us do this.

Today, ashes are imposed on our foreheads with the following words:  “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

We remember that we are created by God to live in a relationship of Love with him and with others.  Dust doesn’t mean that we are worms, of little or no account, crawling around in the dirt. Dust is a creation of God and it helps us know who we are. God has known forever. Isaiah says, “Before I was born the Lord called me.”—Isaiah 49:1.  The psalmist acknowledges this as he says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”—Psalm 139:13.

We remember that God passionately desires to have this relationship with us. He remembers us.  He says in Isaiah, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;”—Isaiah 49:15-16.  God loves us.  He misses us.

We remember that we often fall short of living in this relationship in our daily lives and we need help. Lent brings us to this, and so we pray, “Forgive us, Lord, when we forget these things and start believing we are the creator and can do our own thing.  We are sorry.  Restore us again. Transform us.  Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.”

I pray that your Lenten practices will help you remember and come closer, once again, to the One who loves you most and to the ones with whom you travel this journey.  Mine, too. – dlw