Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Light of the World - a journey through lent

This Sunday, the second Sunday before Lent, we heard the first words from John's Gospel 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (NRSV)

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out. John 1:1-5 (The Message)

In these words we hear that Jesus is the light of the world; that he is a lighthouse to guide us, a torch to show us the way ahead and a cycle light to keep us safe from harm from others. This light shines everywhere in the world and can not be overcome by any darkness.  It is for everyone who would like it, and it is given freely.  Neil preached about where we can see this light in the world, and spoke about looking for the sparks of light in the darkness; for example about nurses volunteering in war zones, about teachers giving extra lessons to kids in need and about love shared from one person to another.

I was moved greatly by these many images of light and as I was thinking about lent and what I might want to focus on I realised that the idea of light in the darkness would be perfect. I am feeling quite overwhelmed by darkness about my health at the moment and the opportunity to focus on light should be healing and informative through the weeks leading to Easter.  

Interestingly, the readings for the fourth week of lent (which are often changed because that Sunday is also Mothers Day) are about light.

And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.  For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.  But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.  John 3:19-21 (NRSV)

This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.  John 3:19-21 (The Message)

Coventry Cathedral - John Piper's baptistery window

This window in Coventry Cathedral represents this light in the world which we can choose to come towards and live amongst.  Coventry Cathedral is important to my family and this window has always brought me to silent awe.  The light is myriad in colour and variation; it is inviting and warming and it is open for all.  It is shining over all who are baptised and it is shining the cathedral's light into the city around it.

Inspired by this I have put together five activities, one for each week of lent, which I am going to undertake to go deeper into what it means to accept the light, live in the light and share the light of the world.

1. I am the light of the world
Lindisfarne Scriptorium sell the most amazing images which I often use in prayer.  This year they have for sale a set of Easter Colouring Images which I have purchased both for kids work and for adult colouring.  (If you've never done any colouring as an adult then you're missing out, it can be extremely therapeutic and a helpful route to deep prayer for those of us who find it hard to sit still).  One of the images is of the light of the world; in the first week of lent I am going to colour this each day and pray for an opening of the light places in my life.

2. Labyrinth of light
I have walked full size labyrinths a few times over the years and have always enjoyed the experience and found them helpful in allowing me to discern issues which I need to resolve.  This lent I would love to make a labyrinth of light using rope lights (like this one in Amsterdam), but in reality it would be extremely expensive.  Instead I am going to get a smaller rope of light and make a finger labyrinth and use it each day during the second week of lent.

3. Prayer Candles
I enjoy candle light when praying, it is calming and captivating in its movement which helps me to stay focussed on prayer without too much effort.  I have found the image below of a salt dough candle holder and am going to make one in the third week of lent.  I will make it with 7 candle positions, allowing the candles to build through the week of prayer.

4. Thumbprints of God
In the fourth week of lent I am going to focus on how I have God's thumbprint inside of me; He is there through every hardship and every celebration and I carry Him even when I feel like I am alone in the darkness.  To represent this I am going to make a simple piece of art; a cross of white thumbprints on a black piece of paper.

5. Fix You
One of my favourite pieces of music is "fix you" by Coldplay.  It speaks to me of the love of a parent and a child, of the love of God and of the way we are all broken and yet loved by God always.  In the fifth week, approaching Easter, I will meditate on the lyrics to this song and remember that "lights will guide you home, and I will try, to fix you"

I will try and blog about each of these activities as the weeks progress; if you are doing anything for lent in a similar vane it would be great to hear about it.  God Bless.

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