Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Lenten Rituals


This Lent, we tried something a bit new with lighting a candle each Sunday.  It is meant to be an echo, mirror of Advent when we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.  So, during Lent, we will light a candle each week too.

We began where Scripture began ~ in Genesis 1 ~ with our belovedness.  We are formed, fashioned with the fingerprints of God.  To begin at the beginning of being blessed by God.  To let this light guide us not only for one Sunday or one week...but to continue to let that shine brightly in the coming weeks.

We moved on to lighting a candle of healing/wholeness because we all need healing in our life.  Theologian Ruby Sales asks the question, "Where does it hurt?"   That question belongs to all of us.  Some hurt because of racism/sexism/homophobia.  Some hurt because of job/food insecurities.  Some hurt because they can't find affordable housing or difficulty in school.  Some hurt because of stress or anxiety.  We all hurt.

Next, we lit the candle of being unbound by that which confines and defines us.  This was the narrative of Lazarus who we are told came out of the tomb and needed to be unbound because the grave clothes were too tight around him.  Like with the question, where does it hurt, the places and people we feel confined by can feel make us claustrophobic.  Where are those places you need to ask God to break through and enter in fresh ways?

Next, we lit the candle of abiding...which is one of the Gospel of John's favorite words.  To abide in God is to be rooted/grounded/firmly planted in the presence of the holy.  I want you to notice the cycle here ~ we started with beloved...and let that shine a light on brokenness in our mind/heart/ and bodies...which led to us noticing/naming the places we needed God to call out to us...now we are back to abiding in God.  We abide in God not because of what we believe or do, but because of who we are.  Jesus says, I am the vine, you are the branches.  We need to remember our connections to the holy. 

Because we skipped a week - rather than having seven candles - we will have six.  The four above during Lent, then on Palm Sunday we light a candle of hopefulness.  The word, "Hosanna" we shout and sing on Palm Sunday means "save us."  Save us from what we cannot save ourselves...save us from brokenness...save us from constant bickering and partisanship...save us from talking about "those people"...save us from blaming until we have fully accepting our own participation.  Save us.  Yet, Jesus' way of saving (the cross) is not how it was supposed to be done.  Jesus was supposed to take care of those oppressive Roman authority once and for all.  Only he does it not by might makes right, but by vulnerable self-giving love.  When we light the candle of hopefulness, we realize that our hopes and dreams take us to places we never imagined or thought we would want to go.

Finally, on Easter, it is a light of life.  New life...resurrected life...renewed/refreshed/restored life. 

I want to invite you today to light six candles...one for each of the above words.  Listen to how it sings to your life.  What truth does it have to teach/tell you?  Which words/lights are you like a moth drawn to...and which would you rather not light?  Pay attention today to our still speaking God moving in your midst as we prepare for Maundy Thursday tomorrow.  May this be a gift and offer more than a trace of God's grace.

Blessings ~~   

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