Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From Darkness to Light: Reflections on Holy Week

The busiest week of the church year is behind us. However, each year as I reflect on Holy Week I ask myself this question: Have I truly experienced the profound mystery of Holy Week or have I simply gone through a series of liturgical motions? The answer to this question varies from year to year with some years being extremely uplifting and enlightening, while others are rather dry and uninspiring.

As I ponder the events of the past week, I am struck by the symbolism of darkness and light. On Wednesday evening, during the Office of Tenebrae, the church became gradually darker and darker until only a single candle, representing the eternal light of Christ, remained. The darkness of that Tenebrae service remained present throughout the liturgies of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday as we contemplated Christ's acts of humble service and ultimate sacrifice. The darkness of these three services was tangible. I could feel the heaviness of God's heart as he watch his only Son endure the pain of rejection, betrayal, humilitation, and death. I could sense of powers of darkness that foolishly believed they had won the victory on that ominous Friday afternoon at Golgotha. I caught a glimpse of the blackness of sin and despair that was placed upon the shoulders of Jesus as he hung on the cross. I could see the darkness of our broken world longing to be healed, redeemed, and restored. However, I also came to realize that darkness is not a reality unto itself, but is rather the absence of light. Darkness has no true power. Darkness has no authority, because it has no substance.

On Saturday evening, we gathered outside the church to light the Easter fire, symbolizing the light of Christ breaking through our darkness. We then processed into the church, which remained shrouded in darkness. The Paschal light burned brightly in the midst of the darkness. After hearing the story of God's salvation, the resurrection was announced and the church was flooded with light. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia! I am continually struck by the fact that these declarations are made in the present tense. We are not announcing an event that occured 2,000 years ago, we are announcing the present reality of God's resurrection power in our lives, the power of life over death and light over darkness. We are no longer abiding in the absence of light, but we now dwell in the fullness of light, the very presence of the Risen Christ.

So, for me, this Holy Week has been a movement from darkness to light. We were once a people who dwelled in darkness, but we have seen a great light. Let us therefore walk in the light as He is in the light!


  1. way behind but hoping I'll be on the home stretch some this week. Just wondering if anyone else out there has some comments on Luke 16: 1--18 -- the Shrewd Manager?

  2. Saul sure had his problems. Sure wish he hadn't taken Jonathan down with him.

  3. It is difficult for me to read Luke 18: 18-30 and not think that one can buy their way into heaven. I know somewhere there is some under lying meaning that I am missing. I am still catching up, so if anyone would look back at their MAP maybe have some thoughts or suggested readings -- thanks.

  4. Kathy...the Parable of the Shrewd Manager is difficult to fully interpret. Jesus often used "real life" examples to make theological points. Sometimes these points are abundantly clear, while at times there remains some tension and uncertainty regarding exactly what Jesus is attempting to illustrate. In the case of the Shrewrd Manager, it seems that Jesus is not commending his dishonest behavior as such, but rather pointing out that people are good at securing their earthly future, in this case the manager's financial future, but we are not as concerned with securing our eternal future.

  5. Kathy...I don't think Luke 18:18-30 is about buying our way into heaven, but rather it is about the radical cost of discipleship. In other words, Jesus freely calls us into relationship with him. He says, "Come, follow me!" BUT, in order to fully live into the identity of a disciple, Jesus must be THE PRIORITY in our lives. I think Luke emphasizes the radical nature of discipleship more than any other gospel writer. The rich young ruler was obviously attached to his possessions; he loved his money and wealth more than God. Throughout the New Testament, the possession of wealth is not condemned, but the love of worldly goods above God. Luke tells us this story of the rich young ruler NOT because we all need to go sell everything we have in order to get into heaven. But rather, this story should give us pause and prompt us to ask ourselves, "When have we been like this young ruler?" ... "When have we placed our trust in worldly goods rather than the goodness and love of God?"