“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Sunday, March 28, 2021. Photo by Lucy Chian on Unsplash.
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mk 15:33)
It’s noon, but the sun isn’t beating down on you. I picture ominous clouds and a threatening darkness as three men slowly die by crucifixion on Golgotha. The passersby, chief priest and scribes have all left ahead of the storm, leaving Jesus and two robbers with a few soldiers who carry out the execution.
Dark clouds like that over my house are usually accompanied by alerts on my phone of severe thunderstorms in the area, lightning strikes, tornado warnings and instructions to seek cover. This is not the time to be outside. Golfers end their rounds early, roofers call it a day, surfers head in from the waves, lifeguards whistle everyone out of the pool, and I take the dog for a walk before the rain starts.
Continue reading “In the dark”
Everyone is pretty excited about the solar eclipse across the United States tomorrow. I really hope we get a chance to see it. Many of our Florida afternoons have been defined by clouds or thunderstorms. Weatherman says fifty percent chance of storms. Thanks, buddy –I guess we’ll just flip a coin.
Anyway, one of the unique features of a total solar eclipse is the chance to see the sun’s corona as the moon blocks most of the star. This got me thinking: what big things get in the way but also help us see other things more clearly?
Sometimes a disability may help us see another ability more clearly. Someone who’s blind may have an enhanced sense of smell or hearing. A power outage may interfere with your wifi connection, forcing you to discover the value of talking to the people you are with. An injury may force you to get the rest your body desperately needs. The class you wanted was filled, so you enrolled in one that you really enjoyed but never would have otherwise considered. A detour made you take a scenic route. You got fired, but found a job in a different field that you really liked. You got cut from one team, but tried another sport that you were really good at.
When something gets in your way, you may have the chance to see something you never noticed before. Be grateful for the darkness in your life that lets you see some light.
Tomorrow, as the first part of a stewardship emphasis at our church, I’ll be talking about the influence we have in this world. My sermon is based on Matthew 5:13-16, where Jesus says we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”
One way to look at this is to see how influential Jesus says we are in this world, making as much difference as salt and light make when something is bland or dark. (If you’d prefer to think of salt as a preservative, that works, too. We make as much difference as salt and light when things are rotting and dark.) Anyway, I think we sometimes forget how influential we are as Christians. Feeling outnumbered by other faiths and atheists and agnostics, the temptation is retreat into our own worlds or let ourselves be influenced by others.
Whether we like it or not, God shakes us out of the saltshaker and puts us into the workplace, the marketplace, the schools, and our communities. There, whether we realize it or not, we bring some of Jesus with us. By that, I mean we bring what we’ve received from him, things like forgiveness, love, humility, patience, etc. And that is the stuff that salts, brightens, and changes the world. Wrap your mind (heart, soul, and strength) around that, and you might even do it intentionally, realizing what a difference God makes through you.
We are anything but ordinary, bland, and dull in this world. We’re salt and light.