As we commemorate Jesus’ transfiguration this coming Sunday, we also prepare to descend to the earthiness of Ash Wednesday only a few days later. The penitence of Lent follows for forty days.
In one of the beauties of the church year, our season of ashes is surrounded by the brightness of Christ. We begin with descent from the transfiguration mountain to the depths of repentance and walk a journey through the dirt of humanity, ending in the cross, the result of our sin and the location of our forgiveness. On Easter morn, the light of Christ returns as the Son rises from the grave to bring the light of salvation to the world. The angels that announce his return appear dazzling, as white as lightning. The light that we leave on Transfiguration Sunday returns magnified and clarified in the experience of Easter.
Often, in the midst of Lent, we may feel downtrodden with darkness, wondering when the somber silence might end. Yet, the liturgical calendar gives us the tools not only to weather the season of Lent, but to appreciate the darkness. We journey through Lent as a people who remember the gift of Christ’s transfiguration. Whatever darkness comes, we know the Lord is light. Whenever hope seems lost, we remember Moses and Elijah stood with Jesus, that the Law and the Prophets stand together with the Gospel for the redemption of all creation.
To fully participate in this journey, to find the stability offered by this order, regular worship is vital. There are many reasons to come to church, with community formation and worship of God chief amongst them. Another reason, though, is that the rhythms of the church year also help to orient us in the midst of the chaos of our culture. We walk through Lent as a people of the light, as those who know the brightness of hope even in the darkness of our ashes. The liturgical calendar helps us to live that reality.
I invite you to attend church this Sunday, as well as throughout Lent and to Easter. Participate in this journey with a community. Take time to worship God. And especially, find yourself formed by the light of God in the midst of the darkness that so often seems to inspire doubt within us. As we heard just a few weeks ago, the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Come live that truth with us at CLC or one of our partner churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Come discover the goodness of God with the people of God. Come share the hope that all creation might know God’s light, and join the work of the church alongside Christ Jesus to help make that hope a reality.
Simultaneously a sinner and a saint.