The prophet Isaiah speaks the “holy, holy, holy ” of the sixth chapter of the book named for him and thereby ushers us into the Sanctus of our liturgy.
As we emerge for the Epiphany season and begin the work of Lent, it is time to prepare for the shift from the end of a season of brilliant glory and to the beginning of a season of looking deeper into ourselves to see both sin and beauty, false gods and the love we have for the one true God, fantasy and nostalgia set against the truth of our lives. This can be award shift and many will simply wince and wait for Easter. But think again.
What would it be like for us to keep a “Holy” Lent? Need it be a season of crawling on broken glass up a long staircase to an angry God or might Lent be a time simply for us to have a conversation with the God we love and who loves us? What would it mean not to stare into the Holy of Holies (now gone after the temple curtain ripped in two at the crucifixion) but to walk into the Holy of Holies and sit with God there, in the Brilliance of God’s light so that we can see ourselves.
When I get up i the morning and now that I am entering my 50’s I find that what I first see in the bright glare of the bathroom light in the mirror over my bathroom sink is a face I hardly recognize. The life-size oil painting of me as a 16 years old inspires people to ask me, as happened at dinner last night, “Who is that?” My face betrays a life of joy and hardship, love and betrayal; as do all of our faces in the harsh, unforvinging light of the bathroom.
But Lent is a time for us to stay in that light and sit with that God whose love for us does not evaporate simply because it is Lent.No. Indeed, I think God’s love for us expands when we work hard to be better humans, to look honestly at ourselves, without flinching at the bright light on our tired faces, but aware that the light is God’s and that we reflect it beautifully to a darkened world.