BY ALBERT DUNN, COORDINATOR OF PASTORAL LITURGY
Each year, the Seasonal Planning Committee, a sub-committee of the Congregational Liturgy Committee, gathers for an afternoon of reflection and faith sharing on the scripture readings of the Paschal Cycle. This period includes the Lenten Season, Holy Week, the Paschal Triduum and the Easter Season culminating in the celebration of Pentecost. Based on the shared reflection, this year’s focus is Come, Journey to Transformation. This theme is reflected in the music, homilies, general intercessions and décor throughout the season. At Evening Prayer on the Saturday before the 1st Sunday of Lent, this theme was introduced in a reflection by Providence Associate Eleanor Casey. The following is an excerpt from her message.
“Luke’s gospel, for the first Sunday in Lent, describes the time when, following his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Weak from hunger and very vulnerable, Jesus was confronted by all the temptations of the world and came face to face with the darkness we all experience. This inner journey was both intensely painful and profoundly transformative for Jesus. He emerged fully aware of who he was in God, fully conscious that love was the source of his being. He had pushed away the lies and self -deceptions that blind us to the awareness of God’s innate presence and could not contain the love that poured out from him. That love, the Word spoken in the beginning, sought and saw its own in all creation. Jesus was filled with compassion for all he met and could not remain silent in the face of injustice. He could not return to a quiet life. He was impelled to share what he experienced, to challenge the laws and practices that served only to divide and oppress. Jesus knew that his ministry would bring hope and healing, especially to those on the margins of society. He was equally aware that his message would threaten and frighten those in positions of power. It would have been easier and safer to remain compliant with the laws and practices of his own culture but his message was so important that he risked everything to speak the truth. He chose the righteous path.
The Paschal Season invites us all to journey inward, to confront the layers of false self that hide love hidden deep within our hearts, to face that which prevents us from recognizing that we too are the beloved of God. Such journeys, always challenging, can be precipitated by significant life changing events that crack our defensive shell wide open or by small personal experiences that sneak up on us quite unexpectedly and leave only a hairline fracture in that shell.
… Only when we can face our own truth, can the false self fade away and the power of God’s love be revealed. Nothing is hidden in that all-encompassing light. The truth could transform our government. The truth could transform our Church. The truth could transform our world. Come. Let’s journey!”