Image by Rebecca K Photography
Image and Reflection by Pastor Tracey Leslie, Trinity United Methodist Church
In 2019 I had a Lilly sabbatical. One of my experiences was a five-day stay at Gethsemani Abbey, a Trappist Monastery in Kentucky. Gethsemani was Thomas Merton’s Abbey. As a South Central Pennsylvania native, I couldn’t wait to hike in the area around the monastery. I love to hike and Kentucky’s topography is like my native area… which I affectionately refer to as Pennsyl-tucky!
As I hiked the woods, it was so quiet and still. Very rarely, I would pass another monastery hiker. But we only nodded. We did not speak. It was a quiet, prayerful, reflective experience.
One morning as I hiked the trail, I decided to take a turn deeper into the forest. The brush was thicker and, although it was a sunny day, it seemed rather dark that deep in the forest. Then, suddenly, as I approached a peak the sun burst through. I was stunned and mesmerized by its sudden brilliance. I took a picture (on this page) but, after taking it, I simply stood there for quite sometime until the angle of the sun began to change. Although I’m an exercise fiend, I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon that spot where the sun was bursting through in such a glorious way.
In the midst of dreary winter days, many of us long for light. Scripture opens with Genesis, and story of the beginning of life (Gen. 1:3): “Then God said, ‘let there be light;’ and there was light.” In the gospel of John, light is one of the most frequent metaphors for Jesus. In the introduction to John’s gospel, we read that Jesus is God’s Word made flesh and that “in him was life, and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:4). Likewise, 1 John 1:5b notes that “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” In John’s gospel, Jesus proclaims himself the light of the world, saying “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
The good news of Lent is that Jesus came to show us God. Or, as the writer of Hebrews puts it: He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being (Hebrews 1:3a). Light and life in Jesus Christ.