Bruce Stanley, president / CEO – When Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, we set aside the traditional liturgical colors of white, purple, green, red, and Marian blue for the somber black of ashes. The journey through Lent is not over until the darkness of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The bright light of dawn on Easter seems far away.
To non-believers this living with darkness can seem unnecessarily painful, even morbid. We believe, however, that it is out of darkness that God’s promises are realized.
When creation occurs in Genesis, chapter 1, we read, “Darkness was over the face of the earth.” A little later, darkness appears again in Genesis 15:12, “As the sun was setting Abram fell into a deep sleep and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.” The Rev. Liz Roberts notes that it is during this darkness that God’s covenant promise comes to Abram. “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). Even in the middle of darkness, the creative capacity of God manifests itself.
All of us have the experience of darkness. We know mental and physical illness, grief and loss, unemployment, job loss, divorce, discrimination, and more.
But we who are Lenten people have hope.
We are not shy in naming darkness and places where shadows fall. But our God is light, beauty, peace, and grace. Just as Abram was on a journey, so, too are we. We are traveling to our promised land of the Kingdom of God. It has been granted to us just as Canaan was granted to Abram. To get to the place we must go through dark places, but we go with the certitude that the living Lord can penetrate even the darkest places within and around us.
When life is at its worst is often when God is at God’s best. We do not ever lose hope because God’s will cannot be prevented and we will be brought into God’s preferred future for all of us. We name the darkness we know in Lent not because we are resigned to despair but because we are full of hope and confidence that it shall be vanquished by the radiant beams of Jesus love.