For years I’ve been interested in the connections between the seasons of Advent and Lent. In many ways they echo each other. Both are times set aside for reflection, self-examination and spiritual preparation within the Christian year. Both are seasons in which we pay close attention to significant Biblical stories that give shape and definition to our faith. Both are observed with special services, ministries and activities within the life of the church. Both are also celebrated with practices related to light.
During Advent we mark each week by lighting a candle, signifying our anticipation of the light of Christ coming into the world. During Lent, we extinguish a candle each week, signifying the light of Christ being rejected and eventually extinguished by the forces of evil in this world. In the northern hemisphere this symbolism can be especially meaningful. During the growing darkness of the winter season, we light candles in anticipation of the coming of light into the world through Jesus Christ. During the forty days of Lent we do the reverse.
As the amount of daylight continues to increase we move against this trend, extinguishing candles as we anticipate the impending death of our Savior. As the amount of the sun’s light grows all around us, we reflect on the forces at work in this world that continue to try to snuff out the light of Jesus Christ. By doing so we acknowledge that darkness bears the capacity for God’s presence just as we know evil can take place in broad daylight. We grieve the rejection of Christ and all the ways God’s love continues to be crucified today.
But then, with a burst of energy and glory, we celebrate the mystery of the Resurrection; the power of life over death, the triumph of love over hate and the extraordinary news that Christ is Risen! As we celebrate Easter, its message resonates deeply with what is happening to the earth this time of year. Signs of new life, additional color and light, new growth and renewed energy are with us in abundance once again.
As I looked forward to journeying through the Seasons of Advent and Christmas with you all a couple months ago, I now eagerly look forward to sharing this special time of year with you as well. May it be a blessing to all.