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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

February 2008


     It seems odd to hasten from the light shining in the darkness to the darkness of ashes; to rush from the light of the star to the darkness of contemplation.  It seems odd to hurry from the wooden manger to the wooden cross and to jump with haste from the celebration of Christmas to meditation of Lent, but the calendar this year thrusts us into Lent exactly one month after our Epiphany Feast!  Like one of my favorite poets, Ann Weems, records in her book, Kneeling in Jerusalem, I find myself filled with mixed emotions as I dash from Christmas to Lent.  And yet as she writes in her poem, Looking Toward Jerusalem, “If I stay in Bethlehem, I stay alone.  God has gone on toward Jerusalem.”  And so with little say in the matter, we are rushed into the dark.  As a child, I hated the dark!  If I was alone at night, the house was almost certainly ablaze with lights.  A nightlight was my constant companion in the silence of the dark, chasing away the shadowy figures that lurked in the gloom.

     Lent is a time that is filled with haunting shadows, as we are ever aware that a looming cross and a world covered in darkness are an imminent part of our Lenten journey.  In spite of my early experiences resisting darkness, I have found a healing peace in the quiet of evening darkness.  Years ago, I began to embrace the darkness of Lent. In this darkness, there is a blessed quiet, so different from the ringing of carol songs and frantic shoppers.  This Lenten darkness beckons us to listen to the shadowy whispers of lives transformed along the journey to the cross.  This Lenten darkness invites us along the path, if we dare to take it, of a deeper spiritual journey.  As we go, we will find in the darkening stillness, a summons to delve deeply into the mystery of the sacrificial love of our Savior.  The Lenten darkness holds the promise of solitude and silence and dedicated time to draw near in prayer as we seek the comfort and peace found only in the grace-filled arms of our God. This Lenten darkness that waits is not a darkness to hide in, nor is it a darkness from which to run. For in this darkness, we are known and welcomed and invited to travel with God on a transformational journey of faith.

     As a community of faith, we will be exploring this darkness in our worship on Ash Wednesday and in the weeks that follow with our Taize on Tuesday worship services.  Just as we have celebrated the light, so now we are challenged to dwell in the dark for a time as individuals and as a community of faith.

     In the days ahead, let us explore the mystery and holiness found in the darkness as we journey with God toward the cross.