Reflections on Scripture, Spiritual Growth, and Personal Transformation
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!