Journeying through Lent
Well, here we are, journeying again through Lent together. This period of the year leading up to Easter is often referred to as our journey to the cross. It is a time that we intentionally look at the lives we are living and reflect on how life might or might not be reflecting our call by Christ to a life of discipleship.
Something has struck me about the passages in the Lectionary assigned for Sundays in Lent this year. As we continue to walk toward the cross, notice how often the scriptures juxtapose light and darkness. Notice how often we are confronted by the stark contrast between light and dark in our reading and our worshiping. Do you suppose that this light/dark literary tension just might be a metaphor for the journey of Lent?
Throughout the Gospel According to John, the images of light and dark are played off against one another. For John, light is the image of life, of all that is good in creation. On the other hand, dark is the image of death, all that is evil or less than good in creation.
John continually lifts up before us the fact that we live in a tension between good and evil, that life is a time when we are confronted with this difference.
But we know this about life already. Conflict and war around the world are surely reminders of the darkness in the world. The darkness is extra personal for me this year as my son has just deployed to Afghanistan. But so too is the death of a loved one, facing cancer, children in neonatal intensive care, struggling marriages, hunger, homelessness.
The list just goes on and on. But we also affirm that there is light. We see it in each other, in rescue workers, laughing and playing children, soup kitchen volunteers. This list of light is at least as long as the list of darkness.
This year’s Lenten journey to the cross, then, is one that invites us to affirm that light and darkness are in the world and that we live out our calling as Christians by trying to stay on the edge. Let’s make this an intentional time of seeing the darkness in life, recognizing it and living so that the dark is given over to the light.
If we live the promises of Christ, they prove themselves true, every one, every time. And the truth shines through the life we live. So, living the promises, even in the darkness of life around us, shows (first to us and then to others) that the light of life is alive and well among us.
So I invite you to live in the tension that is the light/dark interface in life and rejoice that you are part of this family of God. I sure do.
Starting a new year
2013 has been an good year for Eliot Church. Although we have been saddened this year by the deaths of some special people, Eliot Church has remained strong. I want to commend all of the members and friends of Eliot for your commitment to the work of Christ’s church. You make this the welcoming, active, spirit-filled place that it is. Most of you have heard me say that I have never enjoyed being with a congregation as much as I enjoy being with you.
I also want to commend your Session. This deeply committed and caring group of Presbyterians has been facing some great challenges and celebrated a lot of good things happening. They are close and mutually trusting and respectful.
This year you have finished your Mission Study and elected your Pastor Nominating Committee, who are hard at work. (Information about their work can be found on the "Newsletter" page of this website.)
The PNC is involved in an intense and challenging process. It is important that you trust them and have patience. It will take some time. Perhaps the most difficult part of all this (aside from the waiting) is the confidentiality of their work from here on in. I describe the nature of the confidentiality as “no pillow talk confidential," meaning that the committee members cannot even discuss with their family members at home.
When your new pastor arrives, welcome him or her with open arms and accept your new pastor as you have accepted me. Be a part of the developing relationship between pastor and congregation, and help Eliot's mission evolve as needs change and as you identify new gifts that can be brought to bear.
Friends, I know that times of change, of transition, can be unnerving and unsettling. Yet it is out of the seeming chaos of uncertainty that wonderful creativity arises. Your energy, your spirit and your commitment to Jesus Christ tell me that Eliot will not just survive. You will flourish.
My prayer for you is that you will enjoy a new, long and spirit-filled future:
- A future built upon the strengths of your extraordinary diversity and multicultural sensitivity.
- A future reflecting the gifts and resources of Eliot as you creatively serve the needs of Lowell.
- A future that includes getting to know more of who Northern New England Presbytery and the the larger church are and what we do (you will be amazed) and I hope that you will find ways to be part of that.
- A future in which you will enjoy the wonderful spirit that is evident in this place.
- And a future in which you will be a beacon to all those who are seeking the Spirit.
Most translations of Genesis continue the historic rendering of: “In the beginning, God created…” There is an alternate translation that also accurately translates the Hebrew text: “When God began creating….” Creation hasn’t ended. God continues to weave new tapestries of life. As you begin this year of your ministry, I pray that history will read: “When Eliot Presbyterian Church began again creating…”
Your work together is not yet done. The work of Christ in the world never is, and you are part of that. The work of Christ in each of you isn’t done yet either. Together you are growing as individual Presbyterian Christians and you are growing together as the Eliot Presbyterian Church.
Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit who is walking this journey with you.
In Christ’s ministry,