Lent is often observed as a season of increasing darkness, like a journey through nightfall until the rising of the sun on Easter Sunday. Lent is a season of extinguishing candles, grappling with things we’d rather avoid (like our own mortality for instance), and for penitence. I usually love this about Lent. As Kate Bowler said in a short reflection, Lent is “the saddest time in the Christian year.” It’s such a moving season because we all know there’s so much brokenness in the world (and in ourselves), and Lent invites us to name that instead of runnning away from it.
However, as Lent rolls around this year, I am resisting the movement into the darkest of nights. It’s not that I want to avoid the brokenness, the pain, and the struggle as much as it is that so many of us have lived the struggle for the past couple of years. We know the pain. We are acutely aware of the brokenness. We know fear: fear of disease, fear of war (and then realization of war as conflict escalates in Ukraine), and fear of “what if it never gets better than this?”
This year, in my personal devotional time, I want to focus on the lengthening of the light. The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word for “spring.” It is a word that literally means “the lengthening of the daylight hours.” Lent is not just about moving deeper into introspection and quiet. It is also about moving toward the light that is on the horizon. It is about making space to realize that every day is one day closer to the day when all things will be made new. It’s about hope.
For this series, I will offer a brief litany for lighting a candle. You may add a candle each week and watch the light grow, or you may re-light the same candle every week–whatever is more meaningful and practical for you. I will include a prayer along with the litany as well. You are welcome to use this litany for personal or congregational use.
Friends, let’s journey toward the light together. Oh, how we need it.
Posts in the Lengthening the Light Series for Lent