Rev. Deborah Rundlett is the director of The Meetinghouse and pastor of Ridgebury Congregational Church, where together church and community are reclaiming the Commons for the care of people and planet.
Reference: Holy Darkness by Daniel L. Schutte, Published by OCP
Holy darkness, blessed night, heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence, we embrace your holy night.
Reflection: Holy Darkness
This is the place where God calls us in our third pandemic Lent. God invites us to journey into darkness, the darkness of the cross in which we are called to remember the events that shaped Jesus’ journey to the cross: his last supper with the twelve, Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal followed by his arrest, the fleeing of the disciples, Peter’s denial followed by the disciple’s despair upon hearing the cock crow, his trial and scourging, the painful journey to Golgotha, his crucifixion, the ridicule of the crowd and the witness of the women with the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross, his death.
Of course, our remembering is not merely a mental activity of recollection, but an entering into the narrative with our whole self. Anyone who dared to fully enter the Lenten texts knows the pain involved in entering into this part of our story. But enter we must if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ.
We live in a society that fears darkness seeking instead quick fixes that only lead to deeper pain. Entering into darkness is never easy. But it is an essential part of the journey. Have you ever noticed how the most significant events in Jesus’ life occur in darkness: his birth, his arrest, his death, and his resurrection?
The mystics have long known the gift born of the dark night of the soul. For Teresa of Avila, the dark night was a profound gift of God in which she came to encounter God at the center of her soul. John of the Cross believed that the purpose of the dark night was to purge us of all that holds us apart from God. But where do we begin?
Thomas Merton notes that darkness comes when we allow God to strip away our false selves and make us into the persons we’re meant to be. This is uncomfortable work. Entering into the crucible of darkness involves painful confrontation with those parts of ourselves that are not of God: our disordered affections and unhealthy attachments. It can be difficult to believe in resurrection when you stand in the hollow carved out by death. But the mystery of our faith is that death precedes resurrection.
In these final weeks of Lent, may we dare to enter into the holy darkness. For therein lies God’s “Eastering” of our souls. This is something that cannot be orchestrated, controlled or forced. It can only be lived.
Holy darkness, blessed night, heaven’s answer hidden from our sight,
enfold us and hold us.
Help us to entrust ourselves to you in this time of unknowing.
As we await you, O God of silence, may we embrace your holy night
toward the Eastering of our souls. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war
- For the family and friends of Rev. Grace Elizabeth Hammond, UCC pastor and mother of Dawn Hammond, SNEUCC Executive Minister for Policy and Finance. Grace died on March 13
- For those grieving or suffering after a mass shooting at an Arkansas car show left 1 dead and more than 2 dozen injured, including children
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the beginning of the spring season
This Week in History:
March 21, 1965 (57 years ago) U.S. Federal Troops and Alabama National Guard escort civil rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge after two previous marches had been violently turned back at the bridge by Alabama state police. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr., the demonstrators arrived at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. King then addressed the crowd estimated to be over 25,000 people.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Pastor of Ridgebury Congregational Church, CT, and Director of The Meetinghouse, a place to gather, grow and flourish.