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Everything looks different when you turn on the lights.

When I was younger, if I came home to an empty house after high school, I would go through the entire house and turn on every single light. I felt apprehensive in the quiet house, and even though turning on the lights didn’t make me any safer, I felt calmer knowing I could see everything that was around me. Turning on the lights changed my perspective.

I always knew the first thing God did when God created the world was speak light into existence. I knew God said, “Let there be light,” and light erupted into being. What I didn’t stop to think about was the contrast between the formlessness and the darkness and the moment when light burst forth across the expansive void. Even now as I consider this moment of change, it takes my breath away.

Everything looks different when you turn on the lights.

This season of Lent, we are walking through difficult days. Not only are we journeying toward the cross with Jesus, we are also dealing with the griefs and losses of COVID, feeling the heartbreak and fear of the war in Ukraine, and navigating our own personal and complex situations. Our lives might feel formless, void, or chaotic at best. We open the door and peer in at everything we’re dealing with, and we feel overwhelmed.

Let’s turn on the lights a minute and look around. The light doesn’t change our situation, but it might help us see things more clearly. As it says in one of my very favorite hymns:

“I want to walk as a child of the light
I want to follow Jesus
God sent the stars to give light to the world
The star of my life is Jesus
In Him, there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The Lamb is the light of the city of God
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus”

Reader 1: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1a).
Reader 2: Formlessness, darkness, void… these are the words used by the teller of this ancient story to make sense of the time before God made the world.

Reader 1: “…a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2b).
Reader 2: Even in the very beginning, before God made us, God’s Spirit was present and active.

Reader 1: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light'” — and everything changed (Genesis 1:3a).
Reader 2: From formlessness and confusion to the brightness of day. Everything looks different in the light.

Reader 1: Often, throughout the season of Lent, we extinguish candles and focus on the heaviness of the journey of Jesus. This year, with all that is going on in our world, we are clinging to the meaning of the word “Lent,” which means “the lengthening of the daylight hours.” We gather before our God in the hopes that God will turn on the lights and lead us into hope. <light candle at this time>
Reader 2: May God enlighten our hearts and our lives as we seek to follow after Jesus. Let us pray:

Creator God, your Spirit hovered over the formlessness in the very beginning, and we ask you to hover over and be present with us in the chaos and formlessness in our lives. When we are afraid, help us put our trust in your. Shine your light upon us and lead us where you would have us go. Amen.

Other posts in the Lengthening the Light Series

Light in the Attic

When You Can’t Take Another Step

St. Therese’s Little Way

What We Need Is a Celebration

In Praise of Growth