I’ve really enjoyed the lectionary texts from the past couple weeks that have focused on light. I’ve always liked Epiphany but even more so this year for some reason. I appreciate that Epiphany is not just one Sunday that we celebrate those lovely wise folks coming to see the new born King, but that it’s an entire season stretching until the day before Ash Wednesday where we’re all opening our eyes to God around us. To me that’s pretty significant in our church calendar that this time between the birth of Jesus – the incarnation – and Lent is a time where we a people of the light get a chance to center and focus on that light, opening ourselves to it.
I admit that I’m now watching ABC’s “Off the Map.” If that makes me a drama and Grey’s Anatomy lovin’ television watcher than so be it. I like the concept that these three doctors have come to this jungle to get away from whatever they have left back home and yet they seem to face these same fears and concerns no matter how far they have run. In the first episode the three newbies gather and realize that the doctors that hired them had done their homework on each of their back stories. The guy of the group says, “So much for a blank slate!”
I think sometimes we feel like that. “So much for a blank slate!” We wish that everything would just go away and be wiped clean. The thing is though that community and church is not just about slates being wiped clean although it does say Jesus scatters our sins from the east to the west. But there’s something about people loving each other in spite of the flaws and the crud. There’s something about folks sharing in that refuge and safe place and being that harbor for each other whether it’s in the good, the bad, or the ugly.
Sometimes that being there for one another is letting go of a past wound or hurt. Sometimes it’s acknowledging and saying outloud a secret that has kept us bound and stuck, whether it be our own, a family secret, or a burden we just kept on carrying. Sometimes it’s admitting that we may not have it all figured out and we really struggle in some areas. Sometimes it’s confessing something and seeking reconciliation. Sometimes it’s just being open to where the Spirit of God leads.
It amazes me that at the times we are the most down or low or hopeless/helpless/spent – these are the times that often the light starts to break into those cloudy days. There’s just something about that light that no matter how dark it may get – it breaks in. We watched the movie TRON last night. I know, I know – not the most high brow or Oscar worthy – but it was really surprisingly good and we didn’t want anything that would make us think to much at the end of a long Sunday. I never saw the original but I really liked this one. Part of the beauty of the story is that one of the characters had never really seen the sun. She had no idea what that would look like. She had read about it in books, true, but if you think about it – if you had no concept of what the sun is – how do you describe it? The warmth, the light, that it’s practically everywhere, that it moves and shifts and changes.
There’s something unexplainable about the light but there’s something incredibly powerful. In these days after the shooting in Tuscon, as we think about what it means to be community and shelter for one another as the Jars of Clay song talks about that I’ve mentioned before, I think about all of us holding candles together as one. All of us lifting those candles as one. That’s a powerful sight. That it’s our collective voice, our collective being – lighting up as one. Not “Lord in your mercy, hear my prayers” but “Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.” That we as community as a fellowship of believers lift each other up, we rejoice with each other, we mourn with each other, we keep telling each other to press on.
In that same episode from “Off the Map” (I know, I know) the main doctor says at the end to one of the new girls who’s figuring out why’s she there to look at the Southern Cross. They’re a set of stars that look like a cross in the sky (yes, I wikipedia-ed it so it’s sort of legit). He talks about how Magellan used the Southern Cross. He knew that even if he was lost, he knew that if he found that in the sky, he would make his way back home. All he had to do was keep on going. So he tells her, “Keep on going.”
Now I know that there are times when we don’t want to “Keep on going.” There are times when we think we can’t keep on going, much less want to. But there are people and songs and scriptures and even those sometimes annoying bumper stickers that are lights that pop out along our way that help light our path to keep on going. There is a shelter of people that help us to keep on going. And that’s not just with a slate wiped clean, because you can’t escape and dodge forever, but that’s with all of who we are and are yet to be.
So are we those lights for others? Are we ready to welcome people? Are we ready to open our arms and our hearts and our eyes? Are we as the Church/church ready to offer a refuge, a harbor, a light to those in a world raging? Or do we just look like a big blob of dark with all of our “stuff” that sometimes gets in the way?
One of my favorite songs off of the new Jars of Clay “Shelter” CD (i know i can’t stop listening to it) is one called “Small Rebellions.” Sadly there are no youtube videos that I can find out there yet. But the words are below.
“God of the break and shatter – Hearts in every form still matter – In our weakness help us see – That alone we’ll never be – Lifting any burdens off our shoulders – If our days could be filled with small rebellions – senseless brutal acts of kindness from us all – if we stand in between the fear and firm doundation – push against the current and the fall – God of the worn and tattered – All of your people matter – Give us more than words to speak – ‘Cause we are hearts and arms that reach – And Love climbs up and down the human ladder – Give us days to be filled with small rebellions – Senseless brutal acts of kindness from us all – If we stand between the fear and firm foundation – Push against the current and the fall – We will never walk alone again – No, we will never walk alone.”
I’m glad that we don’t walk alone. That there are lights along our way guiding us home and that we can be lights to the world. Open our eyes Lord that we may see the ways that we can grasp hold of your light today that the world may see and know…
Psalm 27:1, 4-9, Isaiah 9:1-4