Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lights Up, Church

With the most exhilarating moment of the calendar soon upon us, the words of an old Holy Saturday reflection on these pages return much to mind.....
As a wise friend down South reflected in a note the other day, "Tough days, these, to go through.

"Not so tough, though, that the light of the Paschal Mystery cannot overwhelm the shadows."

Indeed, the Light can break through... but only so long as we let it.

I don't know about you, but my favorite moment of the year comes tonight as the church glows with the new fire of Easter. The image remains imprinted in my head always, and in it is a priceless lesson -- well, a couple.
For one, messy as it can be sometimes, fire sure beats a light-bulb... but even more, the place can only ever be as bright as there are the number of us.

Regardless of our virtues, our crosses, our "status" and sins, the lights we carry are all equal, all the same size. And all the while, even in our finest hour, we will still leave wax on the pews.

Just as the burnt palm of Ash Wednesday is the great leveler of our common sinfulness and mortality, so the end of the Lenten road brings the peerless visual sign of our shared potential, of the light we each bring...
...yet while the ashes and what they represent are ours to own, the Light we carry is given us -- It comes from Elsewhere, and keeping it alive on the inside, letting it burn away whatever might seek to keep it from shining as bright as it can, is a daily, lifelong task -- but it's one we owe to everyone around us, so that, together, we all might see as best we can and, together, keep the darkness at bay....

More and more as time goes on, I pinch myself at the thought of being a part of all this, this church -- I'm not worthy of it, and I know I never could've kept on alone... and that latter bit just becomes all the truer with time. So as I stand there, now just a couple hours away, dripping wax all over the place (per usual), just know that, as always, but even moreso here, I'll be thinking of and praying for all of you, the many lights beyond who've made the path bright, warm and beautiful, and in doing so, have kept me blessed and able to keep following it.

[P]lease keep a spot for me in your prayers, and just as much, the many folks among us for whom this Easter is marked by suffering, whether of body, mind or spirit... Just as we suffer together, even more do we rejoice... so as we prepare to stand before "this holy light," God love you all and give each of you, your loved ones and those you serve every joy, gift, renewal and grace of "[this] most blessed of all nights... the Morning Star that never sets"....
As Christ is Truly Risen, especially in this hour and amid the backdrop of the sorrows and heartbreaks of these days, may he rise all the more anew in our hearts and minds, that he might rise all the more anew in the Risen Body that is his church.

To the hundreds of thousands the world over joining us tonight, a million welcomes -- make yourself comfortable; if you need anything, ask... and feel free to raid the fridge, the books, whatever: it's all yours now as much as it's anyone else's.

And to all of you, the church which carries the Light day in and day out to more people and in more ways than you probably know, Christus Surrexit Est, Alleluia! Christos anesthi! Buona Pasqua y Buenas Pascuas a todos -- He is Risen!

To one and all, every wish for a joyous, happy and Blessed Easter. And tonight, just as we will have watched the Light rise and glow and and taken it into our hands, so may we bring it ever more brightly inside, that we might reflect it ever better and carry it forward anew in these 50 Days to come, and always.