A Lenten blog by Rev. Marisa
By the time you read this, we will just have stepped down onto the path of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Holy Week when the Christian church world-wide turns inward for more introspection, contemplation and creating space for God. It is a time where our news is full of much darkness and challenge, and many are feeling deeply sobered about the future of humankind. One of the great gifts of our Lenten passage is that it seems to reflect many cycles of human life throughout the centuries . . . we have often been at thresholds of despair throughout history and wondered what the following of Jesus Christ might have to say to us in times where hope in human nobility seems so elusive?
Early Christians clearly knew this would ever be a struggle for followers trying to be faithful . . . how to believe in the Good News when the teachings seem so at odds with the world, and our good acts seem trampled in violence and suffering? In three gospels is the story of the Transfiguration, when some of the disciples glimpsed Jesus in his true form, human and divine, way up in the mists of a mountain top. In all three, it occurs just after he has told him he will suffer and die in Jerusalem, and that any who will follow him should take up their crosses and be prepared to lose their life for the gospel. In the church year, we often tell this story just before we enter Lent, usually the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the time when we step down onto the path leading to the cross.
28 . . . Jesus[a] took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:28-31)
We, like the early disciples, need to see the true power that Jesus came to bring near . . . remembering that there is more than this earthly life that emanates in the cosmos. We have inside each of us that divine light of the Holy that can never be put out. We can only glimpse it in this life but it is always there, waiting for us to tend it and create the space for it to fill us and spill out over into the life around us. Mountain top experiences like this remind us that God promises us that darkness will not prevail, and hate will not win.
Lately there have articles in the newspapers like this one that Carole Mazzarino shared with me: https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/faith/story/2020/feb/15/light-notes-have-heart-be-light-todays-world/515689/ encouraging us to see a time of challenge not as a defeat but an invitation to blaze our light! I have been going to inspirational programs named one after the other “Light the Darkness”! Maybe we can actually show our true colors of love best when times are hard. After all, a candle’s glow is not so visible in broad daylight when the sun is high.
Jesus never said this life as a disciple would be easy. But he did promise that when we turn our lives to him he gives us the words we need to say, the wisdom for when to say them, and the courage with which to act. When we turn our lives to him, we turn in to the heat of God’s unending love for us. Do not be afraid! The prophets and angels and Jesus tell us over and over in the bible: Do not be afraid!
. . . Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:14,15)
So this Lent, I invite you to sink into increased prayer and contemplation, or consider giving up something you love so that every time you miss it, you can instead fill that space with attention to God. Remember whose you are, and find yourself more deeply in the process.
Hear these beautiful words of prayer by Dawna Markova and maybe they can be a Lenten declaration for you:
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which came to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
(From Fully Alive by Dawna Markova, posted on www.worldprayers.org)
May this Lenten season be a blessing for you and all those you love! (and maybe especially for those you struggle with the most.)