There are lots of other places that we could be on a Sunday other than in church. Places that might be more fun – like brunch, or a soccer game, or the dog park. Places that would make more sense to those who are not people of faith – like sleeping in or enjoying a leisurely morning with The New York Times. Why do we gather with fellow Christians, fellow Episcopalians, to pray and worship God? There are a number of ways to respond to this question. Most responses depend on where or how you see God at work in this world, or if you were raised in the faith, or what you believe about God in Christ.
Your response to this question is important because it helps you know how you might be sharing the faith with others. Even if you aren’t aware that you’re ever sharing your faith with others – simply by being a person of faith, you’re sharing some of who you are with others. (That’s how the Holy Spirit works). I hope you’ll join us Wednesday evenings during Lent to think more about this.
The Lord has blessed us with the beauty and ability of Trinity Church so that we might be a blessing to others.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.
“What are you giving up for Lent?” goes the old question. Most of us remember, from childhood, “giving up something” during the season of Lent because Lent is when faithful people are invited to “self-examination and repentance through prayer, fasting, and self-denial” (Book of Common Prayer, page 264-265). As a kid, I often gave up chocolate, soda, or sweets. More recently, as adults, we learn that instead of giving up something, we can instead take on a holy practice. We might commit to having daily prayer time, reading the Bible each day, or participating in Holy Eucharist every Sunday.
Whether you decide to give something up or take something on, our goal is the same. We’re creating space in our lives for the God of all mercy to create and make in us new and contrite hearts (as we’ll pray together on Ash Wednesday).
To borrow the phrase popularized by minimalism in the 1940s, you could say that “Less is more” during Lent.
We take a bit less into our lives trusting that we will receive more of God.
Our God, through Christ, is more generous than we can imagine. God is always wanting to offer us more and more of the heart of Christ, as we have room to take it in.
When we’ve had back-to-back-to-back grey days in the winter, isn’t a burst of sunshine (even when it’s shining through the clouds) the most welcome sight? Light is essential for almost everything we have and need in this life. So then it’s no surprise that Jesus is pretty concerned with teaching us about light as well.
Last Sunday we heard Jesus say, “You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. … let your light shine before people.” (Matthew 5:14)
We can trust that there is light within us, within our families, and all around us in the Trinity family. Our work is in releasing our light.
With “the eyes of your heart enlightened” (to borrow a phrase from Saint Paul), allow God’s light, and life, and love to flow from you as you face others in the course of the day. Your light can give dignity to others who suffer from fear, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, and shame.
The great wonder of God’s light is that even the smallest amount of light overcomes darkness. Jesus says to us, “You are light.” Be light! This blessing from the Book of Numbers (Ch. 6, v. 26 and following) reminds us of how God shines on us so that we might then shine onto others:
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace.”