Saturday, April 11, 2009

Darkness into Light

I had forgotten the power of a church like St. John's stripped bare for the Good Friday liturgy, candles and veiled crosses carried out at the close of Maundy Thursday's evening Eucharist, reserved elements removed from the tabernacle to the side altar where a single candle burned and the tabernacle door left gaping, lights dimmed. And then the somber Good Friday liturgy itself in that stark setting.

I'm anticipating tonight's Easter Vigil, when fire will be lighted outside the church and blessed, the Paschal candle blessed and lighted from that fire and then carried into the dark sanctuary toward the chancel with three pauses for three acclamations: "The light of Christ! Thanks be to God!" The return of Light after a time of darkness.

We all experience and express our faiths differently, as led I believe. For many of us to be born again is to be baptized. For others, it is experienced as a sudden transcendent turning around. And there are other approaches as well.

My turning around always has been and continues to be slow, hesitant and sometimes almost imperceptible --- turns toward Light, steps backward into darkness, a marginalized time when, wanting nothing to do with the institutional church, I found solace still in liturgy, the Word and the sacraments, often helping myself to them in places where I had not been invited to partake by anyone other than He who instituted them.

The circumstances that have allowed me to participate fully in the liturgical journey this year from darkness into Light may not have been the ones I would have chosen. They were chosen for me, but I'm grateful.

I travel as best I can in the direction I'm led, as we all do. No matter what your mode of transportation or your place along the road, joyous Easter! The light of Christ! Thanks be to God! and for the first time since this lenten journey began, Alleluia!

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