Our Redeemer's Blog

A Lent Message by Pastor Thomas

“A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

You may be wondering what a little bit of Advent and a hint of Epiphany are doing in a message during Lent. Simply, we cannot know the way of the cross if we do not see the consequences of fervent hope in God shining light into the world – what is hidden away is brought out into the light of day, and the reality of the world can never be hidden from view again. We see the world and ourselves differently. Hope and joy meet their completion in seeing for what we have hoped. And for us, it is not just a risen Lord, but a crucified one, too.

If Advent is a waiting for light, and Epiphany signals the light of God coming into the world through Christ, then Lent is walking in the shadow of the cross, and in light of it, the places that cast shadows of their own in the world. 

Lent is about seeing clearly where the cross stands as a marker in places where the suffering and sin-submerged world is met by a God who exposes the realities of this world as those which God also suffers alongside and with us. Lent is about God’s revelation that it is the darkness of the world that God has come to bring to light.

We are so exposed to information and crisis daily that it can seem like this “light” is shining too bright – it is casting too many shadows – and we may want to shield our eyes. These days, when the world seems especially chaotic, it is easy to get angry and sad, frightened, and anxious. It is overwhelming. It is hard to find levity when our hearts and minds are captivated by what pains and alarms so many throughout our nation and beyond. 

It is sometimes challenging for us to feel at ease while going about our daily lives, taking time to rest, or enjoying even a moment of fun. This difficulty arises when we compare our lives to those who experience a level of suffering to which many of us have never been subjected and may never face. We may believe any distractions from solidarity even for a moment is a cause for shame.

In the past, recollection of suffering – especially on the suffering of Jesus – was practiced during Lent through fasts and marked modesty. Every week was meant to mirror Holy Week, with some more celebratory feast days punctuating an otherwise somber and dour season. Anything that could bring about a sense of enjoyment or levity would often be seen as ostentatious or luxurious and was discouraged. 

Fasts do have their place and can still be helpful practices. Humility, though, can be practiced even in acknowledging our limitations and need for moments of rest, or on a day when the shadows seem a little too thick. Accepting the reality of the world means being aware and sensitive, but it does not mean always denying ourselves what we need to be comforted in troubling times. 

This Lent, maybe the light of Christ can offer us a glimpse of the joy of living and the joy of the answer to our hopes, while it also can reveal the truth that hope sees inequity and pursues justice.

There is light in this current moment of darkness, and it is having our eyes opened to the truth beyond the tragedies that anger, frustrate, and sadden us – that a world that holds the cross and a world that has its shadows also has a light that shines in the places that seem darkest. Those places that are darkened and marked by the cross of Christ are places of hope and comfort, insight and wonder, and reveal the way of our life in light of Christ’s cross.

– Pastor Thomas Voelp